Growing the city of Montego Bay and the parish of St. James has always been a hot topic for investors, citizens and regulators. With the high tourist demand and the potential to impact many sectors of the economy, there is a loud cry for more growth to be seen. However, the big question remains, how can it be achieved, and in which sector. Recently the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Economic Linkages Forum was held at the Rose Hall Convention Centre and different industry leaders and influencers posited their view of how to grow the city.
One strong view shared, was our need to grow the Business Process Outsourcing sector:
“As a country, we are very unattractive compared to some of these countries that are trying to attract the very same clients. We simply are not as competitive. Most other countries are rolling out the red carpet in trying to woo these clients, but we are not,” said Davon Crump, President and CEO of Global Outsourcing Solutions Ltd, and a former president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI).
He argued that several countries in the region, including Honduras, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, are doing “all the right things” to get their share of the BPO pie, and making great strides in becoming a BPO service destination.
“In those countries the governments have realised the importance of providing mass employment to grow their economies and the importance of the BPO, so they are growing at a faster rate than us,” he stressed.
Crump, who was speaking at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Economic Linkages Forum at the Rose Hall Convention Centre, last week, cited the development of special economic zones and turnkey solutions as ways in which the sector can achieve growth and sustainability.
Jamaica currently employs roughly 17,000 persons in the BPO sector, and it is projected that the industry will grow by about 30 per cent annually.
According to Crump, the information communication and technology sector raked in US $230 million in direct earnings, and another US$234 million indirectly. He said the sector is projected to bring in approximately US$330 million in direct earnings this year.
Another area poised for growth, based on sentiments shared, is agriculture.
The forum, which focused on the agriculture, BPO and tourism sectors, was staged in an effort to facilitate meaningful dialogue between industry players and members of the chamber, in an effort to create and deepen synergies between those sectors.
“Agriculture, Tourism and BPO were selected because they are the main ones supporting industry and commerce in the region,” MBCCI President Gloria Henry noted.
Marketing consultant in the Ministry of Agriculture, Derrick Deslandes, told the gathering that the parish of St James is not taking advantage of the high demand, both locally and internationally, for fresh fruits.
He urged businesses in the region to get more involved in the agricultural sector, stressing that Brand Jamaica is very strong in sections of the overseas market, particularly in the United Kingdom.
“Montego Bay as a geographical space has not focused a lot on agriculture in recent times. Montego Bay has the best lands in Jamaica to produce pepper, ginger and banana… We are just not producing enough fruits and vegetables to supply the hotels and the overseas markets,” he argued.