Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Pushing Portland | Thomas broke glass ceiling in Portland

Published:Monday | February 13, 2017 | 12:00 AMMark Titus
Visitors enjoy rafting on the Rio Grande in Portland.
Craft vendor Cathlene Henry in her stall in the Musgrave Market in Port Antonio, Portland.

Western Bureau:

Thirty-one-year-old Daney Ann Thomas has accomplished an important feat in business circles in Portland. When she was elected president of the Portland Chamber of Commerce in 2012, she broke the proverbial glass ceiling, becoming the first female president of the 50-year-old business group.

"My coming in is to inspire my fellow Portlanders to take ownership of our development and the investment opportunity," Thomas told The Gleaner.

"I love to fight for a difference and see sustainable growth."

She added: "When I joined the Chamber in 2006, as a 21-year-old, there was a single tone, it was an 'us against them...'. It was always as if there was a need to be combative. It just started to feel like an old boys' club. It started to feel elitist and I began to believe a lot of the perception that was on the outside," continued Thomas.




"One great achievement is that we are now debt free, we inherited the Chamber with a lot of debt and we are now at zero... . I think zero is a great place to be," said Thomas.

Five years on, and Portland has been voted Best Parish Chamber for two consecutive years by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce. Thomas, who is also founder of non-profit organisation, Daughters of Society, is determined to translate such achievement to the general citizenry.

"Portland is the ultimate alternative, we have not been tainted much by development that other destinations and brands have been," noted Thomas. "We have a lot of unspoilt areas and I think the modern-day travellers are looking for a lot more bang for their buck."

She added: "They are looking for heritage tourism, culture tourism as well as business tourism, and Portland is all of that."

Said Thomas: "We are now building the parish out and so it's the best time for an investor to come to Portland to do their research, to go into business tourism; it's the best time to come in if you are looking to partner with others who are already here, so the question should be, why not come to Portland."