Development of Vernamfield begins in October
Activities for the first phase of the US$2.5-billion Vernamfield development project in Clarendon are expected to get under way by the end of October this year.
This is according to minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mike Henry, who said activities will include de-bushing and clearing of the existing runways.
Dubbed the 'Aerotropolis Vernamfield', the project involves the development of lands that previously housed an army base, an aerodrome to provide international air cargo and logistics services, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services and an aeronautical training school.
The minister said the Aerotropolis Vernamfield will offer bulk, manufacturing and logistics facilities as well as business to over 150 countries in Asia, the Americas, Western Europe and Africa's West Coast.
Henry was providing an update on the Vernamfield development project at a Rotary Club of Downtown Kingston meeting, held at the Hotel Four Seasons in Kingston on Wednesday, September 5.
"The vision of the project is being advanced on a phased basis. Phase one will commence on lands already earmarked for the project and will utilise the existing runway assets," he informed, noting that the development of the first 170 acres is to be undertaken by the Airports Authority of Jamaica.
The minister said $300 million has been set aside to carry out the initial activities, which also include erecting fences and gates, primary electrical connection and distribution, and runway testing and rehabilitation.
Henry further noted that this first phase of the project will also see the start of general aviation activities, such as hands-on flight training; initial MRO activities; crop dusting; and the establishment of hangers to accommodate aeronautical activities, which would be transferred from the Tinson Pen Aerodrome to Vernamfield.
"We will also move to clean up the area of 60 acres to begin to look at the aerospace college and the MRO," he said.
NEW URBAN FORM
The minister explained that the aerotropolis concept is a new urban form, where cities are built around airports so as to speedily connect time-sensitive suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and business people to distant customers and markets.
"The concept combines airport planning, urban planning, business site planning to create a new sustainable urban form. It aims specifically to facilitate Jamaica becoming the fourth logistics hub in the world," he said.
Citing other aerotropolis developments, Henry said the experience from these suggests that Vernamfield, properly invested with MRO, cargo services and other themed investments, will generate a benefit of US$121 into Jamaica's gross domestic product for every dollar invested between 2018 and 2058.