By Pfc. Terence Ewings, 4th BCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.January 27, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - As part of a program initiative to spark the local economy in the Dhi Qar province, Iraqi businessmen held a grand opening for the new Oasis Market here Jan. 23.
The market opening is part of the Iraqi-Based Industrial Zone (IBIZ) program, which started last year in Oct., to help local businesses develop within the security of a military installation. Both military and civilian customers can purchase some of the latest electronic equipment at the market, to include televisions, DVDs and other entertainment products.
Yassir Ahmed, a salesperson working at the Oasis, said the I-BIZ program is an easy and successful way to run a small business that caters to military personnel and civilian contractors.
"The contract that we have with the Americans saves us money," said Yassir, who was previously leasing land from an Iraqi contractor. "We are now able to use the extra money to provide a better quality of product for the Soldiers that shop here."
The I-BIZ program also provides a means to directly impact the local economy through income, employment opportunities and training.
Lt. Col. Timothy Norton, commander of the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division 'Long Knives', attended the ceremony to show his support of the Iraqi contractors.
"It helps (the brigade) to help these Iraqi businessmen gain economic stability," Norton explained. "Simple things like this will lead to the Iraqis providing sustainment for this base long after we have gone home."
Some of the long term goals for the I-BIZ program are to enable self-sustaining Iraqi owned companies, decrease unemployment in the Dhi Qar province and grow the working class society in southern Iraq.