FARAH, Afghanistan, May 11, 2011 -- Farah government officials and members of Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah, Afghanistan, celebrated the opening of a new building that will serve as headquarters for the Farah Department of Economy.

The Provincial Reconstruction Team, or PRT, funded and managed the nearly $200,000 construction project of the new seven-room economic development hub, said Navy Lt. Matthew Fetterman, a PRT Farah engineer.

“It’s encouraging to see this nine-month project completed because this building will increase the provincial government’s ability to provide government services to the people of Farah,” Fetterman said.

Farah Economy Director Zahir Shah Khaatam explained the past three years have been particularly challenging for his directorate due to the lack of one common office space where the department can conduct business.

“For three years, our offices were scattered throughout the city, making coordination difficult,” Khaatam said. “We will now have a stable place to stay, and we’ll no longer have to rent houses and go from office to office.”

Khaatam said the key to a strong economy is good relations among many government and non-government organizations and contractors working on development projects in Farah.

“The economy department will now be able to coordinate with all these people through the opening of our new building,” Khaatam said.

The economy department also plans to convene the Provincial Development Committee, or PDC, meetings in the new office space, Khaatam said.

The PDC is an important coordinating body to strengthen the horizontal links between the sectoral ministries and other stakeholders to plan and implement development activities in the province, according to the Ministry of Economy’s PDC Guidebook.

Petty Officer 1st Class Brian S. Cunningham liaises with the Economy Line Director on behalf of the PRT and uses his Economics degree, his Master’s studies in Community and Economic Development and civilian experience on the City and County Economic Development Board in his hometown of Pueblo, Colo.

Cunningham said the Farah Economy Directorate is key to all things regarding development in the province.

“The department is responsible for taking all the development needs of the province, and making decisions based on limited resources and the goals outlined in the national development strategy,” Cunningham said. “With this building, now they have a hub where all parts of the development process can occur.

“This may seem like just a regular government office building, but it’s much more than that,” Cunningham said. “It will facilitate good governance in Farah and allow leaders to govern independent of outside sources.”