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The model we use at Gran Pacifica is very different as we have committed to the infrastructure of the project. We understand that we are becoming members of the local community and view our relationships in that manner.
The development of ECI properties creates employment for the local population: Gran Pacifica and its partners in Nicaragua have employed nearly 500 people over the last 6 years.
Our more committed approach to development means that we are creating infrastructure for tourism, building homes and condominiums for tourists to use. This has the added benefits of creating sustainability of employment and ongoing revenues into the communities surrounding the Gran Pacifica Project.
Western "development" of Central America often involves little more than a land buyer chopping up a piece of property and selling off the lots. The result is often an empty field with some roads and power, but very few, if any, houses or structures.
There is little or no employment created in this process, few taxes are collected for the local municipality, and, because there are no "addresses", tourists have no place to rent or stay. This model has no ability to provide real social transformation in the local community.
The keys to long-term impact and success are community transformation and sustainability.
Not only are we creating sustainable change through the Gran Pacifica development itself, we have taken steps to improve education and health care in the local community of Villa el Carmen.
From the beginning we have worked to provide donations of ambulances, medical equipment, school supplies, and also participated in projects to reclaim parks and repair schools. Along side our contractors we created a training program for workers so the people in the local community can take advantage of the employment opportunities.
As important as these donations and focused efforts are, they don't specifically address the systemic issues that face the local community in the areas of health and education.
To reach a more fundamental core of needs, in late 2005, Gran Pacifica started building a $300,000 primary school health and education program in Villa el Carmen, with USAID and the Pittsburgh Rotary as primary funding partners. A Pittsburgh-based cross-cultural consulting company - InnerCHANGE associates international LLC - served as the managing partner that designed and directed the project. Details of that CHESS Nicaragua project can be found on the project website. Although the CHESS project formally ended in August 2009, sustaining that work in the community remains a vital objective. Today, those programs continue through the work of the Hope and Development Foundation, based on Gran Pacifica.
Seeing large U.S. Company investments in Nicaragua reassured us that homework had been done on stability and opportunity for return on investment. We are excited to begin construction this year and have shared the opportunity with friends and family, who have also chosen to purchase property at Gran Pacifica.