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Investors flock to western Ja - Crime no deterrent

Published:Friday | August 12, 2016 | 12:00 AMOkoye Henry
Group Managing Director of the National Commercial Bank, Patrick Hylton, breaks ground for the organisation's new commercial centre in Fairview, Montego Bay, last Friday, using a tractor, as bank representatives and political officials look om look on. The centre is among the plethora of major investments coming to the second city.

While some stake-holders have expressed concern about criminal activities taking root and negatively impacting commerce in western Jamaica, others are upbeat that investment continues to trend upwards despite the troubling crime problem.

Gloria Henry, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Western Focus that there is no clear evidence to suggest that crime in St James is turning away investors.

She said that while the chamber acknowledges the urgent need to get crime under control, it has not been a major deterrent to investors.

"We have not had any complaints from either existing business operators or investors. From my perspective, I have had the question raised, but it has not deterred investors from coming," said Henry.

"However, we are very much still concerned about crime. We have had discussions with SSP Marlon Nesbeth, and are giving him some time to see how the measures that have been put in place are working," Henry said.




Last Friday, Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris, while speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for the National Commercial Bank's Banking and Commercial Services Centre at the Fairview complex in the city, also said investors were coming to the parish in droves.

"Montego Bay's growth has, for a long time, encouraged develop-ment across all sectors," Harris, who is the chairman of the St James Parish Council, said. "Between 2011 and now, those of us who live here and have witnessed the development of even this Fairview area, would recognise that we are growing at a rate of about 6.5 per cent per annum.

"This growth in our population contributes to St James' overall five per cent growth and is one reason why investors have been considering this city seriously. The truth is that, with the amalgamation of our institutions and businesses and the many international interests considering investment in our city, we could say the world is looking at Montego Bay. Investors are not asking for Jamaica so much at this time, they are asking for Montego Bay," the mayor added.

Over in neighbouring Hanover, Mayor of Lucea Wynter McIntosh said investors were still showing interest in the parish, particularly in the town of Lucea.

"Investors are still coming in. As a matter of fact, we have some investors who are interested in Fort Charlotte and want to come in. Burger King will be coming in in another few weeks with investment in the parish. We have not had any investor pulling out. We have had investors coming in - both small and large. Crime has not been a deterrent," McIntosh said.




Negril Chamber of Commerce Director Sophie Grizzle Roumel said the situation was similar in Negril, where additional invest-ments have been taking place in the town.

"In the last two years, there has been an increase in development," stated Grizzle Roumel.

She said that while petty crime is a problem in Negril, the chamber is working assiduously to protect the image of the resort town.

"We are hoping to get the CCTV cameras up and running pretty soon. Negril recently got some district constables and we are getting some more in the next six to eight weeks."

She added that the town's population is growing so fast that a new sewage system is currently needed.

"We feel that the infrastructure needs to be improved in Negril to cope with the developments that are taking place. Things need to improve and we are working on it," she said.