Monday, September 15, 2008

Good News from Iraq: 15 Sept. 2008

From MNF-I, Micro-Grants Revitalize Northern Baghdad Furniture Market.

BEIDHA’A — “At first, when we would come to the market, people just stared at us,” said Spc. Jose Perez, originally from Orlando, Fla., and now a driver with Team Steel’s Red Platoon, “and I think they just weren’t used to us being here.”

In late February 2008, Perez and his platoon conducted an initial reconnaissance of a furniture market, located on the southeast side of Beidha’a neighborhood in northern Baghdad, with the intent of determining its viability for future rehabilitation.

What they found was a disappointing level of unemployment, dirty streets and businesses that were rapidly failing.

A lack of technology in the furniture workshops was partly to blame as local businesses were attempting to produce high-quality furniture with only handsaws, planes and a few outmoded and frequently damaged power tools. The lack of electricity in the area prevented the store owners from effectively hiring employees, and the irregular timing of the power grid forced the businesses into intermittent and almost random operating hours.

Today, the market is a different sight. Micro-grants were issued by Coalition forces to a number of furniture production businesses along the area, and Team Steel’s Red Platoon spearheaded that effort with an eye toward developing an area that was capable of sustained economic progress. Thus far, it appears to be working.

Read the rest here.