PDC chairman looks to revive critical sectors
Gareth Davis Sr., Gleaner Writer
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:LARRY ROBERTSON is on a mission to restore hope and stability to the fragile economic sector in Portland, which has experienced a downward trend in recent years with the virtual collapse of its tourism and banana sectors.
Robertson, who assumed the role of Parish Development Committee (PDC) chairman for the parish in June 2012, is optimistic that once stakeholders and other agencies work in tandem - some level of economic stability could be restored to Portland, which would ultimately lead to growth in the agriculture, business, and tourism sectors.
"I am determined to make that change," said Robertson. "My role at the PDC is to interface with the various agencies and ministries as it relates to the development of the parish. The PDC is on a path to successfully achieve its objective in restoring stability to this parish in the various sectors. However, our resources at this time are limited, and as a result, we are on the verge of launching a series of fund-raising activities, which will provide us with funds, so that we will be able to operate more efficiently and effectively."
Currently, the PDC operates a computer lab at its office complex near Town Talk in Port Antonio, which allows the organisation to offset in-house expenses. As a result, the Universal Access Fund assists with the maintenance of the more than eight computers, which are used mostly by students and other local residents.
While Robertson is hoping that stakeholders will get more involved in charting the way forward, he is already eyeing a number of initiatives, which could boost economic growth for the parish. These include having discussions with the Port Authority towards extending the runway at the Ken Jones Aerodrome to accommodate larger planes, discussing with Minister Anthony Hylton the possible reopening of the Boundbrook wharf to resume the export of agriculture produce, and also regularising farmers at Golden Vale in the parish to legally acquire property.
Continuing, Robertson said: "I believe that the banana wharf at Boundbrook could create opportunities for our farmers and the local mining sector. A variety of farm produce and aggregate (sand and gravel) could be exported overseas. We are also urging the operators of Trident Hotel to continue with their development at Blue Hole. In short, agriculture and tourism are the best way forward for this parish."