'St Mary must exhibit more goodwill in 2016'
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
For 2016, the Social Development Committee's manager for St Mary, Travis Graham, hopes that the country he loves will adopt and embrace a more global strategy to reduce unemployment as he believes this would solve many of Jamaica's most taxing issues.
Speaking last Thursday from his office in Cape Clear, Clonmel, he told The Gleaner: "I would really love to see Jamaica train its workforce with skills and services for export because that can only benefit the country.
"Jamaica is not in a position to employ the unemployed, so we have to look at where the demand is in the world economy. This country has a culture of remittance, so if we train people with professional skills and send them out, Jamaica will benefit when they give back because those people will understand their responsibility to the national development process.
"I would also like more civil society organisations to formally register themselves and for community groups to take greater advantage of their local resources and turn them into businesses, which gives their communities positive images.
"Most importantly, I would like to see increased local economic development, more social enterprises within communities, and a nation covered with an entrepreneurial spirit."
Looking closer to home, Graham says the past 12 months have been favourable to the community groups, businesses, and government agencies with which he works, but he believes that the citizens of St Mary must exhibit more goodwill and compassion if the parish is to flourish in 2016.
He explained: "Even though there has been an improvement in the economic environment in St Mary, people are becoming more concerned with bread and butter issues, and this has led to a reduction in volunteerism.
"But we realise what is happening and are turning things around with our Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP), which responds directly to the major issue of unemployment.
"The LEDSP helps more community groups get into business, and for us, we have an additional five groups that are now entering into business initiatives.
"We're also seeing more grant-funding coming into the parish for community groups to take advantage of, and much of this is geared towards reducing the impact of environmental hazards.
"Generally, 2015 was a good year for St Mary because the parish has shown progress and was not severely impacted by any environmental disasters, which is rare."