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IDB awards US$40.5 mil. to expand facility in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti--The Inter-American Development Bank plans to award US$40.5 million to help an industrial park in northern Haiti with its expansion, the international agency said Thursday.

The grant for the Caracol Industrial Park is to finance the construction of canteens, administrative buildings, roads, bicycle lanes, bus stops and other facilities.

The industrial park is anchored by a South Korean textile firm and is the U.S. government's biggest investment in Haiti since a 2010 earthquake destroyed thousands of homes and displaced 1.5 million people. The U.S. has invested more than US$124 million in the project, which has been championed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But the industrial park appears to have gotten off to a slow start since it opened in 2011.

Backers say the facility will create 20,000 to 65,000 much-needed jobs upon completion in northern Haiti, one of the more impoverished areas in the country of 10 million. But an October report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office raised a range of questions about the efficacy and the future of the US$300 million industrial park.

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