Jodi-Ann Gilpin & Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writers
As Jamaica continues to bask in the glory of the performances of its sportsmen and women on the international stage, the business community is expressing disappointment at the lack of economic opportunities gained.
Richard Byles, president and CEO of Sagicor Life Jamaica, who was speaking against the background of the economic benefits that can be gained from the recent IAAF World Championships in Athletics held in Moscow, Russia, stated that Jamaica needed to engage in serious talks with the athletes in order to foster economic growth.
"Our athletes have put us on the map, even beyond Bob Marley. They have done a job that is greater than that of any tourist board and hotel in Jamaica," Byles told The Gleaner.
"We need to talk about how these people can help promote the country even more as this country has a lot of produce and they need to help capitalise on that along with our tourism product," he declared.
Added Byles: "We must ensure that it is not only through the eyes of sports that people are watching us but also those of investors who can help to strengthen the economy. From that point of view, I think there is a lot we can gain."
His views were supported by social entrepreneur Dr Henley Morgan, who expressed dissatisfaction over opportunities missed.
"I am not sure how well we have translated the successes we have had to the economic good of the country. Over the years we just jump and rave in Half-Way Tree (St Andrew) and then we go back to our suffering," Morgan lamented.
"We need to build a sports industry, and by that I mean being able to control the intellectual capital, meaning you have your own stadium in which the people run. That's where we would create the linkage and contract investors," said Morgan.
He further stated: "These events (championships) are held in stadiums built by the hands of foreigners, the contracts are signed by them and the real money is made by them, and even though we stand on top in medals, I don't know of any country who has not won a medal who would want to trade with us because we are in a bad state."
Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson, chairman of the Continental Baking Company, however, believes the country should not solely depend on Brand Jamaica.
"It's a shame that the country has to put its shoulders on a bunch of athletes and it is really sad that the only good news is that created by these events. I really don't think we have the right to ride on the backs of our athletes for economic gain, " he said.