Growth Forum: 'Know your value and up your standards, Lucea'
Kelvin Hall, president of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce, said Hanoverians are failing to grasp the economic opportunities in the parish and, in doing so, they have left the door wide open for external entrepreneurs to capitalise.
Hall made his comments in Lucea, while speaking at The Gleaner's Job Creation, Investment and Growth Forum. The forum was aimed at identifying ways in which the town could unlock opportunities to generate investment and foster economic growth.
"We have to come together and look at what we have because - guess what? - persons who are on the outside are seeing the potential and what they are doing is taking off a piece each time, they are investing. People are investing in Hanover," said Hall.
"However, we who are here have not recognised the potential of the parish, and so we migrate, and we go to Kingston and go to Montego Bay, while the resources are here. If we are patient enough and diligent enough, we can develop multimillion-dollar businesses here and be our own boss instead of going somewhere else to work for somebody else," said Hall. "There are several farmers within our parish who are exporting, and there are other farmers who have the potential, but they do not know what they have."
Hall, who is the manager of the Lucea branch of the National Commercial Bank, said while there was a proliferation of micro-entrepreneurs in the parish, many of the businesses they own are unregistered, and in many cases, there has been a failure to keep financial records, which are required for accessing loans to grow and develop their businesses.
"Record-keeping is important. If you want financing, there must be proper record-keeping. And once we can get that part corrected, then our business owners - not only farmers - can access loans," said Hall. "NCB offers unsecured financing, [but] not many persons are able to take it up because there is no record-keeping. They collect the cash and they keep it at home, and they use the cash to purchase. There are no banking records, there are no financial records, [and] there is no payment of taxes, so that is a hindrance.
"Sometimes I wonder if persons keep their businesses small because they are afraid, or because they do not want to pay taxes," said Hall. "But keeping your business small also limits you, as it limits your earning potential. And if you are able to register, Ö get funding, collecting, say, $200,000 per month, can lead to $2 million if you get the right funding and direction. And so, what I would implore businesses to do is to regularise so that you are able to seek proper funding and guidance, in any area, in terms of farming or wherever, so that you can be a major player."