The Furniture and Wooden Products Incubator Project’s Design Centre was officially opened on Friday (December 4) following a brief ceremony at the offices of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica on Winchester Road in Kingston.
Now in the pilot phase, (the second of four phases) the Incubator project is being implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce through the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, and other partners. It sets out to improve quality infrastructure of the furniture sector and provide technical business support to new and existing micro and small furniture manufacturers, as well as tertiary graduates.
The Design Centre will produce and provide innovative and standardised designs for manufacturers; quality prototypes for manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors as well as centralised services for the entrepreneurs in the project.
In partnership with the Institute of Law and Economics and the University of Technology, the Centre will also serve as a co-ordinating office for Hubs – resource providers; Spokes – entrepreneurial centres; and risk assessment of furniture manufacturers.
During the ceremony, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda lamented the fall in the standards of Jamaican manufactured furniture over the years, and pointed to the project as the Ministry’s efforts to improve these standards.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda (right) admires one of the models of furniture to be designed at the Design Centre, which was officially opened on Friday (December 4) following a brief ceremony at the offices of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) on Winchester Road in Kingston. The Centre falls under the Furniture and Wooden Products Incubator Project which is currently being implemented by the Ministry in collaboration with the Bureau. With the Minister from left are: Executive Director of the BSJ, Noel Osbourne; and Senior Director, Technical Services at the Bureau, Gladstone Rose.
“We are going to make sure that we do our part to raise the standards so that we can again be very competitive and be taken very seriously,” he said.
The Minister said that given the difficulties faced by some small manufacturers, to start up and expand their businesses, particularly in terms of adequate factory space, the Ministry, would seek to make factory space available for those manufacturers who need it.
“So if there are those facilities available, then we will make them available to manufacturers even on a shared basis so you can share spaces…we can divide it up for smaller manufacturers and we will consider giving you a special rate as you start up, and for that matter even a moratorium to get you going,” the Minister assured.
Permanent Secretary in the Industry Ministry, Reginald Budhan, also welcomed the project, noting that it would help to re-build the once buoyant furniture industry.
According to a pamphlet detailing the project, for the past 10 years or so, there has been a drastic decline in output by the Jamaican furniture industry, while there has been a significant increase in the importation of wooden furniture. It also noted that based on the reports of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, furniture imports amounted to US$74 million, last year.
Senior Director of Technical Services at the Bureau, Gladstone Rose, said the incubator programme was necessary as the industry is under-achieving, noting that in order for Jamaican-made furniture to be competitive, the process would have to start from the design stage, thus the importance of the Design Centre.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda (left) looks at one of the prototypes for furniture to be designed at the Design Centre, which was officially opened on Friday (December 4) following a brief ceremony at the offices of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica on Winchester Road in Kingston. The Centre is part of the Furniture and Wooden Products Incubator Project, currently being implemented by the Ministry in collaboration with the Bureau. Explaining the process involved, is Executive Director of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, Noel Osbourne (right). Also pictured in the background is Senior Director, Technical Services at the Bureau, Gladstone Rose.
Vice President, Development Chair, Entrepreneurship and Development, University of Technology, Dr. Rosalea Hamilton, said that the occasion was an important milestone in terms of redefining and restructuring the industry.
She noted that the furniture industry is an important part of the productive sector in the country, pointing out that the sector, “is perhaps the place where we can best benefit from the unprecedented flow of Foreign Direct Investments.”
President of the Jamaica Wood Products and Furniture Association Owen Reeves, encouraged his colleagues to support the project “so as to reduce our dependency in foreign imports and to create jobs for our fellow country men and women.”
Furniture Buyer/Associate Director at Unicomer Jamaica Limited, Mrs. Annette James Williams, said the project is a good initiative “as it will only facilitate local and global competition.”
Other Government agencies, bilateral and multilateral development agencies and private sector organisations are also involved with the planning and implementation of the project.