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BPO To Boost Economies Of St. James And Hanover

BPO To Boost Economies Of St. James And Hanover
Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce President, Gloria Henry.
(Media Credit: Garwin Davis)

KINGSTON (JIS)-- President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, Gloria Henry, says business process outsourcing (BPO) will significantly boost the economies of St. James and neighbouring Hanover, creating some 60,000 jobs over the next five years. Ms. Henry, who was speaking at the Chamber’s Investment Forum 2017 Round Table and Luncheon at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on April 7, noted that there will be further build-out of spaces in both parishes to accommodate the expected growth in the sector. “BPO investments will create over 7,000 job opportunities during this next year, and that figure will increase exponentially within the next three years,” she said. “Easily, we are looking at employment of about 30,000 within three years and a doubling of that amount within five,” she added. The Chamber President said her organisation will be reaching out to foreign and local investors to take advantage of Jamaica’s near-shore location and other competitive advantages to set up BPO operations.

“Local entrepreneurs should try and exploit the spin-off opportunities from this growth, as undoubtedly outsource centres will require more services, such as transportation, housing, security, education and training, food services, and financial services, to name a few,” Ms. Henry said.

“It will also create opportunities for professionals, such as lawyers, accountants, engineers, technicians and medical practitioners,” she added.

The Government is targeting 200,000 additional BPO jobs across the island.

The Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ) is expanding its purpose-built space and will be embarking on four main projects at Naggo Head and Caymanas in St Catherine; Garmex Free Zone in Kingston; and the old Goodyear complex in St Thomas.

Meanwhile, the Chamber President said that Montego Bay and the wider northern corridor have been and continue to be the fastest growing areas in Jamaica and the Caribbean, attracting investments from both local and international players.

“These areas have an extensive and very impressive list of investment projects, with some already in progress and some to be implemented,” she said.

“These, in addition to BPO, also include tourism and entertainment, agricultural and real estate development projects,” she noted.

Ms. Henry said the scope for agricultural development is “very big” based on the availability of lands in St. James, Hanover and Trelawny.

She informed that St. James and Eastern Hanover are “seeing some good developments” with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) leasing some of the Montpelier lands for that purpose.

“We understand that the operators, Jamaica Green Botanical Producers Limited are rehabilitating the citrus farm, building out a factory to produce natural juices and growing sweet and Irish potatoes, pineapples and tobacco for local and export markets,” she said.

All of this, Ms. Henry indicated, will create jobs for skilled and unskilled labour and significantly boost the more than 10,000 persons that are already employed within the sector.

“There has also been expansion in dairy farming. The beef cattle industry is doing well in Eastern Hanover and there is big scope for further development of apiculture and production of ginger, sweet potato and livestock,” she noted further.

Ms. Henry said agriculture can be used to stimulate economic growth in rural communities, helping to mitigate crime and violence, providing meaningful engagement and economic benefits to residents, particularly the young people.

She noted that the agro park concept will be utilised to attract more young people to the sector. The parks, she said, “promote modern 21st century agriculture, providing proper coordination, technical competence and some form of inputs to the farmers”