Sat | Jan 28, 2023

Global Services urges BPO sector to construct more buildings

Published:Thursday | March 17, 2022 | 12:06 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Gloria Henry, president of the Global Services Association of Jamaica.
Gloria Henry, president of the Global Services Association of Jamaica.

WESTERN BUREAU:

WHILE WELCOMING increased interest in providing built-out facilities for business process outsourcing (BPO), the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ), the governing body for the BPO sector, says more effort must be made to bring new businesses to Jamaica.

“All they are doing is recycling the companies that are here. They need to spend their money to build BPO facilities and market their facilities overseas to get tenants, so that we can bring in new investors and new business into the country,” argued GSAJ President Gloria Henry.

Henry was responding to an announcement by investors seeking to build out BPO-ready buildings, to facilitate projected plans by existing players to expand their operations in Westmoreland.

She said that too many people are gravitating to building out spaces and luring existing players to move into their space, noting that that is not healthy for business or for the country in general.

“They keep expecting to take a tenant from everybody, and that is not helping the country, and it is not helping the business, either,” Henry told The Gleaner. “Instead, the GSAJ is urging the private sector to liaise with JAMPRO and the association to find out how it is that they can position themselves in the sector, as there are several platforms that we can use to connect with investors to find out how they can get new players into the space.”

ADOPT THE APPROACH

According to Henry, investors seeking to provide built-out BPO facilities should seek to adopt the approach of the housing market, where developers build these facilities and put them to market.

“You can’t just expect to build and then you try to entice somebody else to come into your space. They need to build space for new investors that they’ve found,” Henry declared.

Westmoreland businessman Diamond Jackson, said in a Gleaner interview that he is ready to construct buildings for BPOs once there are sufficient needs.

He noted that intense discussions are ongoing to enter an agreement with several players in the BPO sector, and that the prospects are looking very bright. Jackson added that his company is moving to carry out development in Carwin Estate in Petersfield, on the outskirts of Savanna-la-Mar.

Last month Homer Davis, the state minister in the Office of the Prime Minister West, revealed that BPO investors operating in Montego Bay have signalled their intention to expand operations into Westmoreland, from where it is estimated that 30 per cent of the BPO workforce in St James travel on a daily basis.

“Anytime we can get an agreement that they will require the space, then we will go ahead and build the buildings for rental to the BPO companies, and that should generate a significant amount of employment for the parish,” Jackson said.

“In this development, there are four commercial lots at the front of the development, and approximately 400 housing units will be built in phases,” he added.

Community activist Bishop Oneil Russell welcomed the idea for widening the BPO sector across the parish.

“We need to see BPO operations in Westmoreland,” he said. “This could be what is needed to provide much-needed employment, now that sugar is at its lowest point.

“We have had many promises, but none has materialised as yet,” he added, referring to talks in previous years to bring the BPO sector to the parish.

Approximately 55,000 people are employed in the BPO sector, which has major operations across the island.