Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor
THE URBAN Development Corporation (UDC) has completed its month-long series of meetings designed to engage stakeholders in the redevelopment plan for downtown Kingston.
Dubbed the Kingston Network Exchange Forum, the meetings gave stakeholders an opportunity to discuss their ideas for the rebirth of the city.
"The exchange is designed as working sessions to take aspects of the plan closer to a final state in a practical way through stakeholder input, while exploring, encouraging and setting the stage for tangible private sector investment opportunities ...," UDC chairman K.D. Knight said when he first announced the meetings.
"We acknowledge that there are several challenges, none of which is insurmountable, and we hold the view that through a deliberate and measured approach, and with the requisite consultation, plans will be transformed into implementation schedules.
"This, we believe, will facilitate the most effective and viable approach to the redevelopment quest," added Knight.
There has been no word yet from the UDC about decisions made based on the discussions, but the State agency has indicated that the talks went well.
The UDC has already reported a 400 per cent increase in applications for benefits under its Tax Incentive Programme (TIP).
Director of economic development and community integration at the UDC Gordon Summers, made the disclosure during one of the Kingston Network Exchange Forums.
Summers noted that entities, which have benefited from the TIP over the last four years include JN General Insurance, GraceKennedy, Digicel, Corporate Strategies Limited, Jamaica Teas and the Jamaica Public Service Company.
"Several incentives are offered under the TIP, and we will be happy to sit with investors and determine how they can benefit from this programme," declared Summers as he encouraged other private-sector leaders to look at the benefits offered.
The TIP is managed by the UDC, on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, and aims to garner the support of the private sector in arresting urban decay by encouraging the redevelopment of property in blighted areas such as downtown Kingston.
The programme accomplishes this by enabling persons who either own or lease property in areas defined as special development areas to access incentives to redevelop the properties under the Urban Renewal (Tax Relief) Act, which was established in 1995.
Under the TIP, tax relief is offered to companies or individuals undertaking capital investments in either land or buildings.
The four incentives available under the TIP are urban renewal bonds, investment tax credit, tax-free rental income and exemption from transfer tax.