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Barnett to invest in dormitory housing for BPO workers

Published:Wednesday | May 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The two international business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, Xerox and Advanced Call Centre Technologies (ACCT), will officially open new plants at the Barnett Tech Park in Montego Bay today.

Each company has leased space for 10 years.

ACCT, which started operations in December 2014, has 400 full-time employees at the centre, where it occupies 25,000 square feet of space. The company said, through Barnett, that it deals primarily with telecom and financial services industries, and currently serves five sales and sales support-related projects from the tech park for a major telecom client.

The American company has been in operation since 1996.

Xerox, which already has offices in Kingston and Montego Freeport, has taken an additional 25,000 square feet of space at Barnett Tech Park and will employ 450 persons at that location to grow its Jamaican workforce to more than 5,000.

Eventually, Xerox will double its occupancy at Barnett Park and its workforce there to 1,000, director of Barnett Limited, Paula Kerr-Jarrett, said Tuesday, adding that the tech park is itself to be expanded.

"Plans are well advanced to start building out another 100,000 square feet of commercial space, in addition to the construction of dormitory-style housing for young employees in the park," she said.

The typical BPO employee is within the 19-30 age range and the housing project will open access to cheaper housing for them, according to Kerr-Jarrett, who said the idea is to develop bedsits with shared bath at costs in line with earnings of the average BPO worker. The dormitory housing project is also meant to address their transportation costs as well.

Barnett plans to invest US$5 million, or J$600 million, in the bedsits, said Kerr-Jarrett.

Christopher Tufton, who is also a director of Barnett Limited, adds that the company is pursuing a "holistic development vision", which includes housing and shopping on lands adjacent to the tech park.

He said the housing project is being pursued with an investor whose name would not be disclosed at this time. It will provide 500 dormitories by June 2016.

Another housing project is to be pursued separately by Gore Developments Limited, who Tufton said has acquired some 100 acres of Barnett lands for the development.

Xerox and ACCT together have taken up all the available space on the 50,000 building developed by Barnett Limited at the 48-acre Barnett Tech Park. The park also includes Vistaprint, which was the first to developed its own 120,000-square-foot centre.

Tufton says the property has the capacity for another 600,000 square feet of space.