Fri | Aug 7, 2020

FCJ providing factory space for microbiz

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2020 | 12:12 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter
The Industrial Terrace entrance to the Garmex Freezone and Commercial Complex in Kingston.
The Industrial Terrace entrance to the Garmex Freezone and Commercial Complex in Kingston.

A spike in demand for factory space by micro, small and medium entities, MSMEs, over the past three years has fast-tracked plans by the Factories Corporation Jamaica, FCJ, to expand the Garmex Free Zone and Commercial Complex in Kingston for leasing.

The FCJ recently broke ground for the construction on Phase 1 of the Garmex Redevelopment and Expansion project, which will cover a total of 126,000 square feet. But that space only represents little over a quarter of 470,000 square feet in requests the FCJ received last year.

MANDATED SPACE

Garmex, in its present set-up, comprises 545,000 square feet of space and is 100 per cent occupied by SMEs. Through its parent ministry, Economic Growth and Job Creation, the FCJ has been mandated to make 30 per cent of our new spaces available to small and medium-sized businesses.

Given the demand for space at the Marcus Garvey Drive location, the expansion project will allow for greater focus on micro businesses.

“We are particularly interested in the manufacturing and agro-processing sectors. This is in an effort to increase productivity and, create jobs, not just within the factory but through the linkages among our farmers,” chairman of the FCJ, Lyttleton ‘Tanny’ Shirley, said via email in response to queries from the Financial Gleaner.

“This will lead to an overall boost in the economy,” he asserted.

Overall, space at Garmex will be allocated among MSMEs on a first-come first-served basis. However, the FCJ will also factor the impact the business will have on economic growth and job creation in coming to its final decision.

Phase 1 of the Garmex redevelopment project is currently oversubscribed and includes space for some existing clients looking to increase their productive footprint while a few new diverse industries have formally registered their intention to move into the complex as soon as the project wraps up.

The FCJ will construct 90,000 square feet of warehousing space at a cost of $629 million to facilitate companies in manufacturing, warehousing, and agro-processing in Phase 1. Another 36,000 square feet of space is being developed under Phase 1 to facilitate small businesses at an estimated cost of $270 million.

The first 126,000 square feet is expected to become available in September 2021.

“We respond daily to numerous space demands via email and social media. Clearly, the level of interest shown, without FCJ engaging in a mass spend on advertising, is indicative of the heightened demand for industrial and commercial space, especially in the Corporate Area,” Shirley said.

Phase 2 will bring another 244,000 square footage under the Garmex expansion project while Phase 3 will see the vertical expansion of the existing buildings where structurally feasible and economically viable to create an additional 250,000 square feet of rental space and support facilities.

Full redevelopment of the complex is projected to take approximately three to five years and is centred on optimal utilisation of the complex to facilitate business expansion, increased job creation, and sustained economic growth.

Approximately 3,000 jobs are expected to be created from the expansion.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com