St Mary had positive 2018 - chamber president
President of the St Mary Chamber of Commerce, Frederick Young, is hailing 2018 as a positive year for the parish, even while admitting that there are still concerns by his business group.
"It has been a positive year, with some concerns," Young told The Gleaner in an interview.
"We saw where the hotel industry continued to hold its own, with potential for further growth. There is also great potential for the BPO and agro-processing sectors in western St Mary, but the telecommunication services need upgrading. We're getting poor service from both voice and Internet service providers," he pointed out.
Among other positives indicated by Young is growth in the construction sector, the agro-processing plant in Trinity, which is set for opening in March 2019, increase in agricultural output, the upgrading of the Junction road, even while expressing concern about the slow pace of the work.
The chamber president said efforts by the St Mary Municipal Corporation to name streets and number premises in the capital, Port Maria, and the ongoing construction of a market in that town are also positive indicators.
But of major concern is the increase in murder figures, despite a drop in other major crimes, and also the continued delay in construction of a divisional headquarters for the parish and police station in Port Maria.
Young said well-thinking citizens of St Mary are calling for more police vehicles and more manpower for the parish.
Currently, the police are housed in the First Regional Cooperative Credit Union's building along Main Street, and would have already got quit notice.
Young also suggested that expansion of Port Maria and the construction of a bypass road could solve the traffic congestion problem in the town.
Also, Port Maria is still waiting for a new fire station, after a promise by the Government.
Looking forward, Young believes that 2019 will see more positives for the St Mary Chamber of Commerce and for the parish of St Mary on a whole.
He said the chamber would go into new communities in order to seek increased membership. A stronger chamber means a stronger voice and better representation, he argued.
"In terms of collective, we can demand more as a chamber. As business people, we can do more for the parish and in terms of issues out there, we can speak with one voice," said Young.
"We believe that going forward with all this potential we want to put hands to work, and once we do that we will have less crime. The chamber stands ready to work with the police, work with civil persons in St Mary to look at best practices, to look at what works for St Mary and to have those things working."