Commerce Dept. briefs businesses on Haiti relief

    The Administration is reaching out to American businesses to make sure they take advantage of post-earthquake development opportunities.

    Commerce Department officials visited Philadelphia on Monday to brief Pennsylvania businesses on investing in Haiti. The Administration is reaching out to American businesses to make sure they take advantage of post-earthquake development opportunities.

    The US has pledged $1.5 billion dollars in aid to help rebuild Haiti. That’s part of the almost $10 billion dollars of international aid that will pour into the country over the next three years.

    Rick Wade is leading the department’s efforts. Wade says next week he’ll be heading down to Haiti for the first U-S sponsored government business conference.

    “It is a sell out crowd. Over 400 U-S firms have confirmed participation,” he says.

    Wade says the US Agency for International Development will be in charge of handing out contracts.

    Kirk Harman owns a structural engineering firm that specializes in constructing buildings that can withstand earthquakes. Harman’s group has already rebuilt schools in the country but he says there are challenges.

    “Equipment, the ability to get the equipment to the sites. And once you try to rebuild a building you have to have water, you have to have power, you have sewer, fresh water,” Harman says.  “All these infrastructure items have to be in place.”

    Harman is eager to do more business in Haiti. He says once the infrastructure is in place, more private development will be possible.

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