Increased opportunities for investment and trade are among the areas of focus for this year's staging of the Fifth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, to be held at the Montego Bay Conference Centre in St James from June 16-19.
Development in philanthropy, social investment and diplomacy will also be priority areas for discussion, says Professor Neville Ying, executive director of the Jamaica Diaspora Institute and chairman of the conference planning committee.
Speaking during the launch of the conference at Jamaica House in St Andrew recently, he said it was intended to build on the momentum established at the London Olympics and the 50th Independence celebrations last year.
"We will focus on some priority projects in Jamaica's medium-term social and economic policy framework," Ying declared. Among these are the establishment of a global logistics hub, the redevelopment of downtown Kingston and medical tourism.
Attention will be paid to capital market investing through the Jamaica Stock Exchange, he said. Ying said special attention would be paid to the development of the Diaspora Bond, as well as opportunities for venture capital and partnerships with micro, small and medium-size enterprises.
Make use of services
In the areas of philanthropy and social development, he pointed out: "We are trying to consolidate the very significant contributions the diaspora has made over the years, especially in the areas of health care and education."
And he noted that this was to make the best use of the free health-care services provided across Jamaica through health missions, as well as the assistance offered to schools.
Sector experts, local officials and representatives from the diaspora will make presentations at the conference, which is being held under the theme 'A Nation on a Mission: Jamaica-Diaspora Partnership for National Development'.
There will also be tours, community-based activities and other opportunities for dialogue to foster networking.
"Our diaspora represents one of the most formidable sources of influence that any country can possess," said Earl Jarrett, chairman of the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation and general manager at the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS).
"Our national outcomes depend on Jamaicans living in Jamaica, and those living overseas."
He stated that with the focus on forming alliances to stimulate investment in various sectors, Jamaica National would be presenting investment oppor-tunities to delegates, which the building society facilitates through real estate, as well as local and overseas capital markets.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator A.J Nicholson, the keynote speaker, said the launch ceremony "epitomises the serious commitment which both the Government and the private sector attach to the effective engagement of the Jamaican diaspora in national development".
The minister used the event to recognise the efforts of the main conference sponsors, GraceKennedy Group, J. Wray & Nephew Jamaica Limited, the Victoria Mutual Building Society and JNBS.
Approximately 350 to 500 attendees are expected at the conference, including delegates from the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US) and Canada, along with members from the Jamaican diaspora in the Caribbean. Similar launches are planned in diaspora regions in the UK, Canada and the US.