JIS News

The Embassy in Washington has continued to broaden its appeal to Jamaicans in the United States to support relief and reconstruction efforts in their homeland, following the passage of Hurricane Ivan on September 10.
Last Thursday (September 16), the Embassy held a town hall meeting in Philadelphia, in collaboration with the Jamaican Consulate in that city.
In addition to being the keynote speaker, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Professor Gordon Shirley was a guest on several public affairs programmes in the city and conducted interviews with all major television network affiliates in Philadelphia.
Local channels, including the NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX Broadcasting affiliates, as well as the Philadelphia Tribune, questioned Ambassador Shirley about relief efforts in Jamaica in the aftermath of the hurricane, and gave him an opportunity to provide an overview of the extent of damage caused by the storm.
The Ambassador’s trip to Philadelphia followed his participation last Wednesday (September 15) in a public forum at the Jamaican Consulate General in New York, where he exhorted Jamaicans in the New York City area to rally to the island’s assistance in the wake of the recent disaster.
Professor Shirley said that his main objective in visiting Philadelphia was not only to update the community and the local media about hurricane relief initiatives and restoration efforts in Jamaica, but also to articulate plans by the government of Jamaica “to mobilize resources which would ensure that the relief efforts are dealt with expeditiously”.
The Ambassador told JIS News that it was important to “explain to Jamaicans in Philadelphia, and Americans at large, that the recovery efforts would take place in a manner that would also ensure that Jamaica is better off at the completion of those events, in terms of its ability to withstand the passage of subsequent hurricanes”.
Professor Shirley also took the opportunity to assure Jamaicans in attendance that the recent natural disaster would not serve to thwart the country’s economic progress. He advised that key sectors, such as tourism, mining, and telecommunications, were not significantly affected by the storm and that there was every expectation that these industries would return to full productivity in the very near future.
“My main message,” he said, “is that Jamaica’s economic advancement would not be derailed and that the progress which we had achieved during this year would be preserved,” he said.
Ambassador Shirley pointed out that his visit to Philadelphia was planned in advance of Ivan, even though it occurred in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, and was part of a larger outreach initiative to Jamaicans living in the U.S.
“My intent is to visit cities throughout the United States where we have large concentrations of Jamaican nationals to brief them on the status of Jamaica’s economic programmes and to interact with them about their interests,” he said.
In addition to addressing the Jamaican community and interacting with the media, Ambassador Shirley also met with the Jamaican Trade Council for Greater Philadelphia (JTCGP), where he exchanged ideas with local Jamaican businessmen and other trade interests on possible investment opportunities in the island.
The JTCGP, which was constituted after a visit to the Philadelphia area in 2002 by Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, K.D. Knight, comprises mainly Jamaican and American businessmen, business development experts in the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area, as well as trade and educational interests.
Ambassador Shirley is also scheduled to meet with the Jamaican community in Seattle, Washington as well as commercial interests in the city, including the Microsoft Corporation.

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