Dreaming Big in Vietnam

Vietnam has an “if you build it, they will come” philosophy.  The country plans grand projects — like converting farmland into entire new cities — and then the government builds infrastructure to serve the idea that may or may not materialize.

The South central coastal city of Quy Nhon, the capital of Binh Dinh Province, exemplifies this approach.  With Hanoi’s imprimatur, the province designated an 8-square mile peninsula near downtown Quy Nhon to become an industrial park served by Vietnam’s 3rd largest port, a new city of 90,000, and a series of high-end eco-resorts — ultimately an aggregate investment of more than $6 billion.

To get ready for the development, the province certainly has done its part.  So far, the government has built the longest bridge over seawater in Vietnam (about 1.5 miles) and what currently serves as one of the world’s least used 6-lane highways.

When the dream materializes, the peninsula promises to be spectacular accomplishment that will enhance Quy Nhon’s current assets: beautiful seacoast, well-maintained public space, shipping center for much of Indochina’s exports, historical Cham charm.

The trick will be getting the capital in today’s tough economy from the world’s investors who tend to be reluctant to invest in a good idea, especially on the Pacific coast amid concerns about typhoons, climate change and tsunamis.

In this case, a formidable wall of mountains protect Quy Nhon’s grand plan.  Even so, it could be a tough sell until the global economy recovers.

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