Hanoverians upbeat about 2017
Stakeholders in the west are optimistic that the new year will bring economic success to the region. Some say the only militating factor that could stand in western Jamaica's way is the high crime rate.
Collin Johnson, a businessman and vice-president of the Veteran Farmers Alliance in Hanover, told Western Focus that based on current global concerns surrounding the emergence of artificial foods, including the recent fake rice scare in Jamaica, the new year could take with it a windfall for Jamaica's primary food producers.
"I think with what's happening re the rice story lately - more people will be inclined to eat locally. They are going to be more conscious in their choices, and as such I think if the weather conditions permit, and if people increase output, farmers will get better prices for their produce and they will be in greater demand locally," Johnson said.
Chairman of the Lucea Development Initiative (LDI), Nerris Hawthorne said she was very upbeat about 2017 being a year which will see the west, and particularly the town of Lucea, stepping away from stagnation and towards progress.
"I have a very positive outlook at the moment. I feel energised, and I feel that some things that should have happened before will happen this year. I am looking forward to the town of Lucea being improved substantially, and to us having more tourism, especially if we develop Fort Charlotte, and our green areas," Hawthorne said.
"I feel we have been to the bottom, and when you have gone down, there is no further you can go, so it is up, up, up now. The crime monster and this garbage monster are two impediments at the moment, but with the commissioner (of police) retiring, hopefully, we will get someone who can come up with new and fresh ideas as to how to tackle crime," she added.
Principal of the Hanover Educational Institute Angela Haye was also upbeat about the new year. She said the economic growth currently being experienced, must be accompanied by the concomitant education and training of youth to take their place in the labour force or to create their own businesses.
"I think for western Jamaica, there are numerous opportunities. In the context of the BREXIT situation and the new government in the United States and all that is happening, we are going to have to turn our attention nationally as well. Even though we need global partners we a are going to have to turn our attention to our own here," Haye said.
"I think for us here in the west, the future is bright. All our leaders, in the west need to decide how we are going to make it work. Overall we are poised for growth ... . Overall with all the plans that are being put in place both privately and publicly, I think we are on the right trajectory for real growth and real development. Education and training of the youth will play an important role in this," she said.
With respect to tourism, particularly the ground transportation sector, founding president of the Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA), Lucea Chapter, James Thompson, said things are also looking upwards for industry players. He said he was not anticipating any fallout from the US change of government and that business opportunities would abound via the non-traditional markets.
"As it relates to Trump's foreign relations, I don't think it will affect us in terms of and our local tourism market, because the issues that affect them will not directly impact our tourism. Things are looking bright. It is not looking bad for us, especially those who have a vision for themselves," he said.