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Danang: A City of Promise

Determined to transform its war torn and backward atmosphere into one that is positive and modern, Nguyen Ba Thanh, a former chairman of the Danang People’s Committee and a controversial one at that, implemented an iron fist of leadership and 45 years later, succeeded in turning Danang City into a flourishing economy of tourism and advanced technology. Perhaps more importantly, Thanh created a government that is transparent to its citizens and investors alike.

Interestingly, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are bigger than Danang. The former is even the recognized capital of Vietnam. But Danang stands out as a more promising candidate for development in that while the former two chose to keep their old infrastructure in an effort to save its history, the city of Danang is flexible enough to preserve its local heritage while keeping up with the current global technological advancement. Danang is known to implement projects, both local policies and foreign-invested businesses, fast while maintaining a close relationship with its local community.

Multi-million dollar companies like Furama Ltd., famous for its first class resorts and beachside villas has established a branch in Danang. One of the world’s biggest manufacturers of small electric motors, Mabuchi Motor Co., has also invested in the city, as well as the household brand Coca-Cola. Currently, Apple Inc. and Airbus Group NV have expressed their willingness to open shop in Danang. A total of 324 foreign direct investment projects from 37 countries have already been approved since 1987, a total of $3.38 billion in registered capital. Since 2007, Danang City has also earned one of the top positions in the Vietnam Provincial Competitiveness Index for good governance and business-friendly policies.

Danang has placed special emphasis on its infrastructure sector, increasing its budget from $1.7 billion five years ago to $4.5 billion. Its city hall is an especially important project, a symbol of both power and change, specifically designed like a sail to represent the effort of the government to create a harmony between harnessing its local natural treasures while adapting to the current global technological advancement. Costing $88 million, it is designed with 34 floors to encompass all agencies, thereby creating a one-stop shop for all government-related transactions. Interconnected by a 300-kilometer (286 miles) fiber-optic cable, the new high-technology government center enables citizens to e-mail their public officials directly while answering to complaints faster with its in-house call center.

The $60 million airport terminal, $93 million three-level overpass and newly-widened roads make commuting easier and faster along with a real-time update from bus routes provided by a high-tech IBM system. The said program also ensures top grade water quality with its ability to provide a regular and strict monitoring. The previous two bridges of Han River has been increased to ten, including the renowned Dragon Bridge which serves as a tourist attraction with its six lanes and fire-breathing spectacle during weekends.

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While implementing an investment-conducive atmosphere, Danang maintains a balance and check among its local citizens, hearing and respecting their reactions in all government undertakings. The local administration is also bent on preserving its tourism, denying potentially environmentally and economically harmful industries and developing its own businesses instead. The Danang High Tech Park in Hai Van Pass is another massive project which provides housing for 10,000 tech workers and constructs a shopping center and several international schools.

Although its population is predicted to balloon to two million by 2020, the government of Danang does not believe in the “Growth-At-Any-Price” model implemented by China in the previous decades. Although faced with formidable challenges like finding enough skilled workers for the said IT park, it believes that its breathtaking natural scenery like its beaches, for one, are enough to entice the international employment sector to work and settle in the city.

Another crucial question which haunts Danang in its road to development is its ability to sustain it with the death of its charismatic leader Thanh. With him unable to steer the city with his strong reign anymore, will Danang be able to withstand the intense pressure of progress on its infrastructure and economy as a whole given its complex structure? But considering its huge leap from being a war torn city 45 years ago to a thriving economy today, Danang only holds more promise of an even better and stronger community for all the world to see.

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