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The GraceKennedy Financial Centre was officially opened in downtown Kingston Wednesday March 7.

The centre, situated at 2 Duke Street (the corner of Duke and Harbour Streets) opened for business on February 13, the eve of GraceKennedy’s 90th anniversary.

It houses offices of First Global Bank, First Global Financial Services, and Jamaica International Insurance Company.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Finance, Planning and the Public Service, Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips said the opening of the financial centre represents an important step in efforts to ensure that efficient banking services are continuously offered in the island.

He noted that offering these services in a “secure, regulatory, environment” is paramount in the process.

Dr. Phillips said the provision of financial services is an essential component in the economy, adding that he is encouraged by developments in the sector.

“I am therefore confident, based on the successes of your organisation, that your 2020 vision of transforming the company from a Caribbean trading enterprise to a global consumer group is one that is likely to succeed,” he said.

He commended GraceKennedy for establishing the financial centre in the heart of downtown Kingston, noting that “it will go a far way in revitalizing and redeveloping downtown Kingston”.

The Finance Minister encouraged other institutions to follow the example of

GraceKennedy which he said has: demonstrated a strong commitment to the financial services sector in Jamaica; committed to its production base in Jamaica and this is manifested by the establishment of its new agro processing facility in St. Elizabeth that was opened in July, 2011; committed itself to assist in the  revitalization of downtown Kingston; and, has done excellent work through its corporate citizenship programme via continued community involvement and commitment to education through its two Foundations – the GraceKennedy Foundation and the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation.

In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), GraceKennedy, Don Wehby said the building represents a “one stop financial centre, right in the heart of downtown Kingston”.

“We commit to continued innovation and consistently excellent customer services as we look to build these companies. And as always, honesty, integrity and trust will guide us all the way,” he said.

He underscored that GraceKennedy is committed to Jamaica, pointing out that the company’s capital expenditure over the last 10 years has been $10 billion. “Last year, that figure was $1.01 billion, with us looking to commit approximately $1.39 billion this year. This is a reflection of the confidence in the future of our company, our confidence in Jamaica, and confidence that our investments will give us a proper return to our shareholders,” he said.

CEO, GraceKennedy, Financial Group, Courtney Campbell, informed that the centre is the first of its kind, with the other one opened in Montego Bay in 2010.

“We expect that this new financial centre will go a far way towards the achievements of our objectives. This space, which is over 10,000 sq ft will provide a very convenient service access point,” he said.

GraceKennedy started in Jamaica as a small trading establishment and wharf operators and has now expanded and diversified from a privately-owned enterprise to a public trading company listed on the stock exchanges of Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The company comprises a network of some 60 subsidiaries and associated companies located across the Caribbean, North and Central America and the United Kingdom, and are involved in: food processing and distribution; banking and financing; insurance and remittance services, and, building materials retailing.

 

By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter