Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
NORANDA JAMAICA Bauxite Partners launched its 2013 GetStart Pro-gramme on Wednesday under the auspices of its Noranda Community Council. The programme is aimed at assisting persons in the company's operating areas to start their own businesses.
The launch, held at the Noranda Sports Club in Discovery Bay, included several of last year's beneficiaries, who spoke of their successes with the programme.
This is the second year of the programme, which so far, has seen $640,000 pumped into 27 projects that include poultry rearing, pig rearing, goat rearing, farming, woodwork, hairdressing, and tile, brick and ballister making.
But in launching Phase Two of the programme, Noranda's Industrial and Community Relations Manager Nathan Thompson challenged members in communities such as Top Bay, Old Folly, Bethel Town, Thicketts, Allerdyce, Farm Town, and other areas of Discovery Bay who are affected by the programme to increase the number of projects to 50 this year and to employ persons to assist them.
"I'm going to put the charge to the community council and Kent Skyers and Lance Neita, who is assisting, to not only make 27 projects successful this year, but as many as 50. That is our goal," Thompson stated.
"Because what it means (is that) we would be providing, maybe, for those 50 projects, 100 jobs. Let the goal be to improve your project, even the existing project, to the state where you can employ one person this year."
Thompson said each community would get one new programme each quarter. If the 2012 programme is anything to go by, then 2013 will be quite successful.
Beneficiaries told their stories and heaped praises on Noranda Bauxite and the Noranda Community Council.
Suzanne Lamont of Top Bay said she started a business to sell chemicals such as bleach, soap, and polish in her community and sees where the business is picking up.
Kent Skyers, Noranda's community relations superintendent, who is also chairman of the community council, said what Lamont was doing was testimony to what could be achieved with an entrepreneurial spirit, which, he said, was needed in Jamaica.
Gawayne Benbow, pig farmer of Bethel Town, spoke of his resilience in the face of difficulties as he started his project last year. Benbow said Hurricane Sandy caused him to lose seven piglets, which were the first lot after he started rearing pigs. Undaunted, he picked himself up and started from scratch.
Testimonies also came from Lloyd Lynch of Thicketts, who turned to growing red peas after Hurricane Sandy devastated his onion crop; Kaydia Skyers and two other women who operate beauty salons; and Calecia Johnson, a chicken farmer.
George Brown of Old Folly, who makes decorative and building blocks, said his business was struggling until the community council helped him last year.
Arthur Clemetson, councillor for the Dry Harbour division, which covers the communities benefiting from the GetStart Pro-gramme, commended Noranda on the initiative and noted that the company had a history of assisting the community.
Photos by Carl Gilchrist