NCIA collaborates with Kedah to unlock value in rural areas

by AMIR AZLAN / pic by BERNAMA

NORTHERN Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) had signed an agreement with State Secretary Kedah Inc (SSK) to mark their strategic collaboration in realising a new and holistic economic development concept named Integrated Economic and Community Centre (iCON) to unlock the potential of less developed area in Yan and Baling, Kedah.

Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor (picture) said the programme which is also in collaboration with Kedah Regional Development Authority will serve as a launchpad to link rural entrepreneurs and communities with the larger urban market positioning it as an economic catalyst hub.

“At the same time, the iCON development concept shall nurture entrepreneurship culture among the local community through participation in organised business activities.

“The project is expected to benefit over 600 local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and create more than 1,000 new job opportunities in the area,” he said in a statement yesterday.

NCIA in the same statement said iCON is a hub for economic activities to reduce the disparity gap between urban and rural areas as the two pilot projects have since been approved in the 2021 Budget as announced by the finance minister last year.

“iCON will be developed on a 9.4-acre (3.8ha) land in Guar Chempedak, Yan and nine acres in Pekan Baling, Baling.

“The physical infrastructure construction for both iCON sites will commence in the first quarter 2022 and will open to the public by early 2024,” it added.

As one of the flagship projects under the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) Strategic Development Plan 2021-2025 (SDP 2021-2025), the economic activities in iCON will be led by potential microenterprises and SMEs supported by NCIA human capital programmes such as entrepreneurNCER, Dana Usahawan ([email protected]), and empowerNCER.

NCIA added it’s programme the “entrepreneurNCER” in collaboration with Malayan Banking Bhd and Agrobank, which has benefitted 14,683 entrepreneurs from sectors comprising paddy cultivation, wholesale and retail, services, manufacturing and agriculture in the region.

NCIA had also inked a memorandum of understanding with Sungai Petani-based Al-Hadad Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, a pioneer company in iCON Baling where it will set up its Al-Hadad Mart and Qah Wah Café.

The event also saw the exchange of letter of intent documents between NCIA and Petronas Foundation for a strategic collaboration under the entrepreneur-NCER-SIRIM programme in Kedah, which will benefit nine entrepreneurs in Yan, Baling, Pendang, Sik and Kuala Muda districts.

NCIA CEO Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John said they will continue to implement rakyat-centric projects and new economic development initiatives such as iCON that will contribute to the rejuvenation of the rakyat’s socio economic prosperity post Covid-19 in line with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob calls in the 12th Malaysia Plan to reduce poverty and out-migration.