Junction wants to be top entertainment destination
With four recording studios, a number of home-based artistes and a growing reputation for incident-free entertainment productions, with more government support, Junction, St Elizabeth, could become a premier entertainment zone, according to stakeholders.
Speaking at last week Thursday's Gleaner 'Job Creation, Investment and Growth Forum' in Junction, businessman Howard Hendricks, the president of the St Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce and noted events promoter, raised questions about the Government's apparent lack of interest in entertainment in St Elizabeth.
"I noticed that Minister Crawford (state minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment) is looking at entertainment zoning and I noticed that in all his speech, no mention is made of St Elizabeth," said Hendricks. "St Elizabeth carried in more entertainment revenue than the KSAC (Kingston and St Andrew Corporation), and I see they are looking at setting up an entertainment zone there (Kingston).
"Based on parish council statistics, South East St Elizabeth is responsible for almost 50 per cent of the amusement revenue generated by the council, which is approximately $900,000 monthly.
"We hear the minister (Crawford) talking about Palisadoes in Kingston, (but) Kingston is not Jamaica," said Hendricks. "We in St Elizabeth want to have entertainment zones, especially Junction."
Speaking at a recent People's National Party's (PNP) Face2Face forum in Montego Bay, St James, Crawford said the tourism and entertainment ministry "hopes to be testing the first entertainment zone on June 26", in Kingston.
"I think Junction is ideally positioned to take advantage of this opportunity, because patrons travel from Kingston, St James, Clarendon and other parishes to support our events and parties week in, week out," said Alrick Miller, the Social Development Commission's (SDC) parish manager for St Elizabeth. "An average 5,000 patrons come out to our cricket matches each Sunday."
The SDC parish manager said that a mix of sports and entertainment would be an ideal package as, according to him, events such as 'night football' are a big hit in the parish, which already has classy facilities such as the Manley Horne Park and the Treasure Beach Sports Complex.
"The people in this area, when they go out and sell, they return with a little extra money to spend," said Richard Parchment, member of parliament for South East St Elizabeth. "I want to tell you that entertainment has been a source of stress relief in these harsh economic times."