...wages are lower. After a year or so, I’m starting to see a difference, especially in their work ethic. I hope foreign firms come and have the same mind-set.
We ought to take the time to train Haitians. The foreign companies will make a boatload of money and leave in a year or two, and the Haitian guys still are going to be untrained. I’m focusing on getting local people trained on best practices, so they can rebuild Haiti over the next 10, 20, 30 years.
Does Haiti need foreign architects?
I believe so. Haiti is going to rebuild. We have 30 to 50 architects locally. I don’t think that’s sufficient. Then again, I don’t think it should be some architecture firm in New York that stays in New York, designs a building and ships a set of drawings down to Haiti.
Most firms in the U.S. are afraid to come to Haiti, post-earthquake. I see some construction firms walking around with big security guards—two or three bodyguards. If you think it’s that bad, don’t come.
Do you think construction companies will want to work in Haiti?
I think so. Look at Turner—they’re around the world, including parts of the Caribbean. Why not Haiti? There are money-making opportunities here, especially on the development side. The country needs to be developed. That’s why I’m here.
Do Haitians welcome foreign workers?
Absolutely not. You’re competition. They’ve been struggling for most of their lives. They see American companies coming through, and they want to share the pie with them.
In America, there is the whole notion of [minority-owned] business enterprise, where, say, 25% of your business has to go to minority-owned businesses. I think the same thing needs to happen here in Haiti—25 percent has to go to locals. You have to be able to train people and show results.
What will it take to rebuild Haiti?
It’s going to take some strong code of ethics and some good, smart people from outside of Haiti to join hands, literally, in helping develop and bring good architecture to this country.