KINGSTON – A proposal has been made for the establishment of a commercial lifestyle centre for entrepreneurs and residents operating and living downtown Kingston.
This recommendation has been made in a Growth Inducement Strategy, being developed through a special secretariat established in the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
Making the disclosure during a Growth Strategy Symposium at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Tuesday March 15, where the strategy was discussed, PIOJ Consultant, Professor Donald Harris, said the recommendation presented an opportunity for the country to “attack the problem of social exclusion” that exists, particularly for residents of inner city communities, within the context of urban/regional development.
Professor Harris noted that a “high concentration” of the “most intense” commercial activity in Jamaica occurs in downtown Kingston, pointing to analyses and studies, which show that up to 25 per cent of Jamaica’s gross domestic product (GDP) is generated in that area.
He said that the setting up of a commercial lifestyle centre will provide an opportunity to “combine commercial enterprise with a social space that allows the people who live in that community to experience the very same facilities and opportunities and access to enjoyment that people in uptown Kingston enjoy."
“Right there, in the heart of downtown Kingston, let’s create the kind of phoenix that rises from the dust,…and be the kind of beacon that heralds the coming of a new beginning, and let’s start with that today,” Professor Harris urged.
He pointed out that the Community Renewal Programme, being piloted by the PIOJ, represented a “deliberate attempt” to effectively challenge conditions negatively impacting these persons and their communities.
“There are strategies being pursued and we encourage them for developments in Montego Bay, in Negril, in Falmouth…with all of the efforts surrounding the issue of redevelopment of downtown Kingston,” Professor Harris implored.
Meanwhile, Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, has welcomed developments being undertaken downtown Kingston, which form part of efforts to restore the area.
Speaking at the forum, Mr. Shaw singled out telecommunications company, Digicel, whom he commended for “leading the way” through the construction of its new US$60 million headquarters, and the company’s support in the re-building of Coronation Market.
He noted that other companies have also “joined the bandwagon,” in this regard, pointing to security and courier service firm, Guardsman, “is about to establish (their) headquarters in downtown Kingston."
“I spoke of that (re-development) vision in Parliament a couple years ago, of what we need to see in downtown Kingston; renewal of interest in our downtown area. (As a result) you can hardly find real estate to buy now. All of these things hold very well,” Mr. Shaw said.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter