JIS News

For the last 17 years they have made space creation their business. Today they are the leading single largest provider of factory space and infrastructure in Jamaica with about 181,818 square metres of space under management.
With a healthy 82 per cent occupancy, a mix of manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ), has embarked on an all-new thrust aimed at creating more space to accommodate the mushrooming Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
Of the total area for rent, 10,780 square metres (116,000 square feet) is dedicated to the ICT sector and has been fully developed by the FCJ in St. Thomas, Kingston and Montego Bay with all but 181.81 square metres being leased to offshore investors.
Managing Director of the FCJ, Glenroy Mellish says the thrust in this direction results from a realization on behalf of the government that “one major constraint to the rapid expansion of the ICT Industry,” was “the availability of office space.” In this regard, he says the FCJ has been trying to find ways to satisfy some of this need from their resources, as the demand for space is “fairly good,” evidenced by the fact that over the last two to three years, occupancy has moved from 57 per cent to 82 per cent. “We think it is an area of business that is economically viable and from all indications there is growth in the sector and investors can benefit from putting some capital in this direction. the outlook is good, we think there is a movement in the economy that we detect; we get a lot of enquiries for space and if funding is available we think we can really make a contribution in the new area of information technology,” the Managing Director notes while expressing a desire to see the private sector becoming involved.
He says the efforts of marketing partner Jamaica Promotions Corporation, JAMPRO, which carries out country marketing have gotten positive responses from “investors needing space.”
Meanwhile Director of the FCJ, Julian Robinson tells JIS News that over the last month and close on the heels of the 4545.45 square metre building designed specifically for the ICT industry by the FCJ in Naggo Head St. Catherine, four companies have expressed an interest in establishing operations in Jamaica.
He informs that so far one agreement has been concluded which will see the entity operating from a facility in New Kingston.
“So what we have seen is a definite upsurge in demand over the last month or so,” the Director adds. He says credit for this ‘upsurge’ could go to JAMPRO for promotional activities undertaken at the Call Centre Summit of the America’s held in February among other promotional activities.
Mr. Robinson says that so far the investors “are all from the ICT sector,” such as “companies looking to set up contact centres and other back office type operations.”
Robinson notes that these developments could fare off for the country, “in a very positive way.””I think this industry provides a significant opportunity for job creation and economic growth,” he asserts, adding that the global trend indicates a preference for “offshore outsourcing and Jamaica because of its proximity; the quality of its workforce and the close cultural affinity to the US is very well positioned to take advantage of the trend to moving offshore.”
In all this, he notes, the FCJ takes on increasing significance as a provider of the physical facilities to allow companies to set up their operations.
“It is an absolutely critical element in the puzzle to actually establish an operation successfully,” Robinson points out, noting that a lack of space could mean loss of investment.
At present because of the increasing demands the FCJ has started identifying additional space to build out.Mindful of the advantages to be gained in having a capable work force to operate in the changing climes, he says the FCJ has taken their lead from Ireland.
In this approach, persons are trained to develop capabilities moving from just the ‘low end’ type operations such as data entry type operations to the medium end, which involves contact centres, and then progressing to the high end, which focuses on software development and systems maintenance.
To this end, Jamaica’s Caribbean Institute of Technology offers a software development training programme and its sister academy carries out training for systems engineers and network engineers. Meanwhile HEART Trust/NTA provides training.
“What we are trying to do is ensure that we provide opportunities for a broad spectrum of expertise and skills so you can have our people who do computer science degree programmes being able to find jobs in the sector as well.the primary role FCJ plays is one of providing the physical infrastructure but it can’t be devoid from everything else,” Robinson stresses.
He notes that resulting from this realization “there is collaboration with all the entities (with ICT interests) to ensure that the kinds of skills which are in demand and which are needed by the clients who want to come into Jamaica (are available).”

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