Thu | Feb 2, 2023

Employment opportunities on the cards for Portland residents

Published:Tuesday | July 20, 2021 | 12:09 AMGareth Davis/Gleaner Writer

THE BOUNDBROOK Industrial Estate in Port Antonio, Portland, is to undergo major redevelopment in a bid to transform that area into a $1 billion state-of-the-art integrated business complex, where there will be an amalgamation of services provided by Government and the private sector.

At a town hall held on Thursday at Port Antonio High School, Chairman of the Board at Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ) Lyttleton ‘Tanny’ Shirley pointed out that the new business complex would greatly enhance the commercial aspect of the town, which is already heavily congested.

According to Shirley, the Boundbrook development will change Portland’s economic base, attract investors, and provide for the integration of all government agencies under one umbrella, along with private-sector businesses, in an area ideal to foster economic growth and job creation.

“And then we fuse that into private-sector businesses to include BPO (business processing outsourcing),” said Shirley.

“[This is] to ensure that not only [do] we have government efficiencies, we have economic opportunities for all the young people, middle age, and my age people in the parish to continue their lives and to be successful. It is a game changer and falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. We have a commitment to fuse government agencies to make people have proper parking, proper facilities, and efficiency of government body to serve you better. We had to look at businesses to complement those facilities in the development,” he added.

The FCJ chairman also recounted that it was West Portland Member of Parliament (MP) Daryl Vaz, who was assigned to a certain ministry back then, who was instrumental, with support from Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in fusing the vision of the Boundbrook development.

SUSTAINABLE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

And Vaz, who spoke passionately about the need to create sustainable job opportunities for the people of Portland, noted that many persons lost their jobs during the pandemic, which creates serious strain and undue hardships for them and family members.

“What about the jobs for the people of Portland?” Vaz questioned.

“We want people to be able to live, work, and retire right here in Portland. But most importantly is the jobs [that are needed]. [Because] that is the one area as member of [Parliament], both members of parliament, that we have not been able to deliver. Yes, you get temporary jobs when you have a construction site or you have a road or whatever and you get a few fortnights.

“When this project is finished, if it is fully subscribed with the BPO space and the other spaces, we can get as much as 3,000 jobs right here in Boundbrook, Port Antonio. That is a game changer for the people of Portland at all ages and stages. And if we are able to do that, as husband and wife member of parliament team, I can retire from politics with a smile on my face, knowing that I have delivered and made Portland better than when I came into representational politics,” Vaz further said.

East Portland MP Ann-Marie Vaz said the development would bring sustainable job opportunities to the people of Portland and possible for those living in the neighbouring parishes of St Mary and St Thomas, which is long overdue.

BRAIN DRAIN

“The BPO space is of the greatest importance to me. We have 65,000 square feet for young people to be employed,” said Vaz.

“This is permanent employment for people who have no alternative. And the pay is good. It is steady income. The young people do not want to leave Portland, but they have no choice because for decades, Portland afforded them no choice but to leave here and find opportunities elsewhere. We want that to stop.

“And this development will be the beginning of the stopping of the brain drain of the people that we need in this parish. This development is a clear indication of the town of Port Antonio. The town is now expanding, and we are moving with the time. We are going to ensure that whatever we do here is a legacy project that will take us through for the next 50 to 100 years,” she added.

One hundred and forty thousand square feet of space has been earmarked for development on 5.7 acres of land, reflecting the historical and cultural characteristics of Port Antonio.

The services will include the Portland Municipal Corporation, the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency, Tax Administration Jamaica, the Registrar General’s Department, the National Insurance Office, restaurants, BPO facilities, financial institutions, a supermarket, a fast-food drive through, medical facilities, and a sports bar and lounge.

editorial@gleanerjm.com