SINGAPORE: The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) said they are in talks with three Malaysian developers to build an industrial park in Johor's Iskandar region to house Singapore firms.
So far, 23 firms have expressed interest in this project, which aims to help them cope with rising cost pressures in Singapore.
ASME said they now need to convince Singapore businesses to relocate to Iskandar.
They will need commitment from about 50 to 100 businesses in Singapore before the selected Malaysian developer goes ahead to build the ASME Park.
ASME said they are looking at land plots in Skudai, Nusajaya and Kulaijaya.
All three plots are 15 to 20 minutes drive away from the causeway.
The hub that ASME have in mind, will occupy some 50 hectares of land area -- roughly the size of Resorts World Sentosa or about a hundred football fields.
ASME's president Chan Chong Beng said: "When we have the scale, we should get a good bargain. As for rental costs, for some people who may not have enough cash to buy, we will talk to developers, to lease and buy back later. And, we will talk to the banks to get maximum financing to help those SMEs out."
The association said that it will also look into the quality of security, power and internet networks in the area.
But not everyone is convinced that ASME's efforts are enough.
One Singapore company, Pestbusters, said bottlenecks at custom checkpoints will prevent them from responding quickly to clients.
Pestbusters' CEO and chairman, Thomas Fernandez, said: "Take for instance I'm in Kuala Lumpur doing my pest management business. It's very difficult to get good quality people, even though you pay a high price. So again, there is a challenge."
But for some, lower rentals and cheaper wages remain a huge pull factor.
Industrial rents in outskirt regions such as Jurong are at between S$3 and S$4 per square foot.
This is compared to about 2 to 3 ringgit per square foot in Iskandar.
Creative media house Cheng and Eng's director KC Eng said: "Cheng Singapore can be more of a base where we contact and meet our clients, whereas in Iskandar, it can be more of production and programming work.
"Because we are involved in IT business, so with that line of thought, we can streamline the programme over here."
If all goes well, ASME said the project could materialize as quickly as 2014.
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