“My grandfather once told me and my father, ‘Remember, Jamaica has given you everything that you have got and everything that you are, and we cannot abandon her, we have a duty to put back into this nation, because she has given us so much.”
These are the words that have fostered a sense of loyalty and duty to the island in the heart of Managing Director of Barnett Limited in St. James, Mark Kerr-Jarrett.
On National Heroes Day, October 18, he will be conferred with the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (CD) for his contributions to entrepreneurship and philanthropy on the island.
Of the award, the 60-year-old businessman and trained mechanical engineer told JIS News that he was “overwhelmed, I am very humbled to be considered worthy.”
The well-known business stalwart of St. James noted that he is fuelled by his need to “help Jamaica, to make Jamaica a better place for Jamaicans and whomever wants to come and visit, that’s the real drive.”
Mr. Kerr-Jarrett, who is a part of a rich legacy of a charitable landowning family in the parish, notes that his grandfather, who was the longest-serving custos of St James, Sir Francis Montcrieffe Kerr-Jarrett, stated that the Kerr-Jarretts were “holding land in trust to the nation , and it is our responsibility that the land be used for the highest and best possible use for the city [of Montego Bay] and the nation and not just for profit.”
He informed that it is with this in mind that the Montego Bay South master plan was developed.
According to Barnett Limited’s website, the Montego Bay South Project is an ambitious 20-year Urban Development plan which aims to transform the tourist capital into a modern 21st-century city, adding 12,000 new jobs and providing approximately 3,500 homes in the process.
The project is being developed in 16 phases, and will feature commercial, residential, institutional, and recreational spaces
“One thing we ensured of, was that in the master plan every aspect of life was covered, residential, commercial, industrial, recreational, tourism, business process outsourcing, transportation, education, all of it, and so we now have a framework which we have been building out to ensure that what we get at the end of the day is an organised structure, environmentally friendly and the best place for Montegonians, Jamaicans and human beings to live, work and raise their families,” he informed.
Lands in St. James which were donated by the Kerr-Jarrett family include lands that now have the Cornwall Regional Hospital, Montego Bay Free Zone, Sangster International Airport, Jarrett Park, Charles Gordon Market, as well as lands now known as Rose Hall, which forms part of the tourism hub in Montego Bay.
While the Kerr-Jarrett helmed Barnett Limited has undertaken several development projects in the parish, one of the feathers in its proverbial cap is the construction of the Barnett Tech Park which houses several business process outsourcing (BPO) sector companies.
“We are very proud of it; it’s been a long time in coming. We really envisioned the whole tech park as far back as the mid-90s and it’s taken a while for the concepts and the policies to be put in place, but they are and we are really, really proud of it and we are very encouraged and look forward to expanding it,” he said.
“Prior to [the] COVID-19 [pandemic], we had over 10,000 young people employed in the tech park, and we are not even 50 per cent built out, so we think it is a tremendous opportunity for the country and for the people to create viable and worthwhile employment with the opportunity to rise through the ranks, for upward mobility and increased income generation,” Mr. Kerr-Jarrett outlined.
He further highlighted that there are 48 acres reserved for buildout for the park to accommodate even more spaces to house additional companies.
“Currently, there is about 400,000 square feet of space built out and there is the capacity to go anywhere up to just over one million square feet,” he noted.
In addition to his reputed business prowess, Mr. Kerr-Jarrett also serves on several boards. He has held the position of President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), and is currently a director of the organisation. He was also recently inducted into MBCCI’s Industry Leaders Wall of Fame.
Mr. Kerr-Jarrett, and by extension, Barnett Limited, is passionate about philanthropy, as they support several causes in and around Montego Bay.
“We support the Granville football team, we support [the community of] Granville in whatever manner and way we can. I have been involved in the parish development committee. I help [whatever] opportunity arises, and I do as much as I can for the young people that come across my path and I look forward to seeing how I can share my experience with others, not just the successes, but the failures,” he expressed.
“You do not learn as much from the success as you do from a failure, and if you can share those successes and failures with the younger generation, then you can minimise the same failures, the same shortcomings and lack of information from stalling or impeding growth and development,” he said.
The primary philosophy by which Mr. Kerr-Jarrett lives is “remain committed to the dream and vision”.
“You have to have faith and patience and commitment and just keep going. That is what is guiding my life,” he said.
The businessman further added that he has never thought about living anywhere else in the world, because there is “nowhere better than yard.
“There is nothing more rewarding than changing someone’s life for the better. If you can lift people up and improve their dignity and their capacity, and change their life, there is no greater reward. The opportunity and the vision that the Lord has given me through this company and my family, there is nowhere else that I would want to be. I am where I am supposed to be. I told my children, go get your experience in the world, but there is no better place to raise a family than here in Jamaica,” Mr. Kerr-Jarrett opined.