Several infrastructure projects now underway in Granville, St. James, have breathed new life into the community and provided more economic opportunities for the residents.
Among the project now being pursued in earnest is the construction and rehabilitation of roadways, bridges, sidewalks and drainage systems as well as a training progamme for new business owners.
Some 105 budding entrepreneurs from the area are being trained in business management and ethics. The first training for 35 persons took place on April 18 and 19, and the others will be trained over the coming weeks.
The developmental programmes and training have been spearheaded by Member of Parliament and State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, and are aimed at restoring the economic viability of the once vibrant community of Granville.
Among the many positives of Granville is Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, which was established in 1975. The institution has turned out thousands of trained professionals who have helped in the shaping of the nation.
Because of its illustrious history, Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams explained that the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College will be used as a centre of literacy and continuous learning, to impact the constituency.
She said the training of the 105 entrepreneurs must be seen as the way forward for the communities of Granville, Mount Salem and Spring Gardens.
“We need to have an increase in entrepreneurial skills in the constituency and my aim is to provide a programme that will enhance the capabilities of persons living in the community. The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) is responsible for the training and will be helping us to achieve this objective,” Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said.
Amara Gilchrist, one of the persons who turned out for training on April 18 and 19 told JIS News that over the two days, she learned several strategies to improve her business.
“I have learned a lot that will help me in my business, so that I can become a better business person. I would therefore like to thank Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams for giving us this opportunity to build our businesses,” she said.
Another participant, Tamekia Mitchell, thanked Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams for the training.
“At the two-day course, we came in not knowing much, but we are thankful for this, because we can be good business persons,” she said.
Orrett Morgan, urged his colleagues to put the training to good use. “Over the years we have been getting money to do this and do that, but we have never received any training. I would like all of us here today to take this very seriously … put it to use and don’t let it go to waste,” he said.
Other projects that have been established in Granville include a block-making initiative involving six young persons from Mt. Salem; gardening and landscaping, with eight young persons being trained to be professional landscapers; and chicken, pig and goat farming programmes, with over 30 young persons participating.
A select group of farmers, including young persons from the constituency, are also engaged in a backyard/containerized pepper farming project with GraceKennedy committing to purchase the produce.
Manager of the block-making venture in Mt. Salem, Gerald Ricketts and the other five persons at the establishment are anticipating a bright economic future for the project.
He was in the first batch of 35 young entrepreneurs trained in business management by the JBDC, and was awarded a grant of $20,000.00 from Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams to kick-start the project, which had fallen on hard times.
“I am so glad that the Minister has come to our aid to put the project back on its feet, so that more people can be employed here. I was a part of the seminar where we were trained to manage our business properly. The training was very good and I am glad for it. If I had received this type of training before, this block factory would still be operating and going even better,” Mr. Ricketts told JIS News.
He said that many challenges along the way discouraged them and caused a temporary closure, but now they are empowered to reach higher heights.
“According to the training that I have received…and the level of support that we get from the community, the project cannot go down again. I will make sure that the Minister will always be proud of this project. She will never lose off this project again,” Mr. Ricketts said.
Meanwhile, Director of the Granville Peace and Justice and Resource Development Foundation, Owen Allen, told JIS News that the infrastructure works now underway in the Granville and Pitfour areas have brought about an atmosphere of great optimism and a brighter future for residents.
“The efforts to complete the rehabilitation of the Granville main road, the resurfacing of Granville Drive and other streets and lanes within the Granville and Pitfour areas, coupled with the flood mitigation and gully cleaning projects, create an atmosphere of optimism on which we can now engage the community in transforming the area’s planning district into a sustainable suburban township,”
“This comes at a time when we are seeking to strengthen the governance structure and to develop effective partnerships with the University of the West Indies, the St. James Parish Development Committee and the private sector, to develop alternative livelihoods and to address the issues of unattached youth who are at risk,” Mr. Allen said.
The Director said the residents are heartened by the efforts of Mrs. Ffolkes- Abrahams to direct the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) towards production and job creation through the small business development initiatives and the backyard gardening project.
“There is a noticeable reduction in the levels of crime and violence within the Granville community and other areas of the constituency, compared with the similar period last year,” Mr. Allen said.
He pointed out that this welcomed period of calm allows the area a window of opportunity to repair and renew relationships and to put in place the institutional mechanisms to ensure sustainable peace.
“We should also use this period of calm to review and examine ways and means of facilitating economic growth and development, job creation, social cohesion and equity, in keeping with the theme of reconciliation, redemption and restoration,” Mr. Allen said.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Reporter