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Portland protects crime-free brand

Published:Saturday | March 31, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Daney-Ann Thomas (right), president of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, greets hotelier Marcia Lawrence.- Photo by Gareth Davis

Gareth Davis Sr, Gleaner Writer

PORT ANTONIO, Portland:The Portland Chamber of Commerce is putting in place a number of measures aimed at branding Portland as a safe destination for potential investors and other business interests.

The revelation was made by Chamber president, Daney-Ann Thomas, during the recent Gleaner Editor's Forum held in the parish, where it was explained that the branding of the parish as a safe one could open up windows of opportunity for its residents.

"One of our biggest assets is that Portland is dubbed a safe parish," said Thomas. "In order to really brand this, we have decided to take this initiative to strength our network, invite other businesses to come on board, work closely with the police, and partner with Dekal in presenting a street project that will help us to monitor our streets and other areas that are deemed unsafe."

Dekal is a telecommunications company that offers internet service in Port Antonio, along with the installation of closed-circuit cameras.

According to the Chamber president, there has been an increase in crime, especially in West Portland, which has resulted in many business operators installing surveillance cameras so as to stem the number of break-ins, and hold-ups. Meanwhile, Barbara Walker of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association argued that cameras alone will not solve the crime problem in the parish, and that the premier focus should be creating jobs for the unemployed.

"We need investment to get people off the streets. What this parish needs is jobs", said Walker. "During the economic downturn, businesses close and more people are out of work. The more people become unemployed is the more crime takes place, because people become desperate. And the more crime you have, is the more investors will not come to the parish to invest so as to create jobs."

However, the chamber president remained resolute that, once investors are coming in with the understanding that there is an umbrella group there to protect them, they will invest. She concluded that, once the parish is able to attract investors, it will experience real growth.