Over 100 individuals and entities, who participated and contributed to the success of the Kingston Urban Renewal Project (KURP), were recognised at an awards and recognition function held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, yesterday (March 4).
The aim of the 18-month project, which draws to a close on March 12, is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of residents of Southside and Tel Aviv, Central Kingston.
Jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Jamaica, the project is managed by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), which used an integrated community development approach to carry out activities in the two Central Kingston communities.
According to KURP’s March newsletter, this approach led to a high level of participation and unity among residents, leaders and stakeholders.
Minister of State in the Industry, Investment and Commerce Ministry, Hon. Michael Stern (right), in discussion with (from left): Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Rev. Ronald Thwaites; Country Representative for the Inter-American Development Bank, Mr. Gerard Johnson; and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Miss Valerie Veira. Occasion was the Kingston Urban Renewal Project’s (KURP) awards and recognition function, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, in Downtown Kingston, on Thursday, March 4.
Priority areas of the project included: community sensitisation and organisation; environment upgrading and health welfare; business training and development; youth development; empowerment of women; and institutional capacity building and dissemination.
In his address at the function, State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern, said that KURP is a prime example of an effective, timely intervention to address both the needs of the community and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
“I have always maintained that the small business sector is one of Jamaica’s most important recovery tools. Through the various small businesses, you now have the capacity to help yourselves and your community, while contributing substantially to the larger Jamaican economy,” he said.
Mr. Stern noted that the larger success of the project is its potential for the development of self-employment capabilities within the Tel Aviv and South Side communities to satisfy the urgent need for independence.
“There’s very little that is more empowering than being independent. The beneficiaries of this KURP project can be secure in the knowledge that they can practise their profession in the Central Kingston community. You will find the greatest business opportunities in the specific environment of Central Kingston, where the services you offer can have the greatest impact,” he stated.
Turning to the long-term benefits of KURP, Mr. Stern said that the project “delegates the real power at the local level, and encourages development from the ‘bottom up’ rather than from the ‘top down’.”
He noted too, that in maintaining the long-term impact of the KURP project, those who have benefited from business development and training can become positive entrepreneurial role models for others in their community.
Under the project, to date, 63 young persons have secured internships; seven persons were permanently employed through the programme; and 131 students received skills training through the HEART Trust/NTA; while 3,000 persons have benefited from various health-care checks.
In addition, 32 businesses each received $50,000 grants to purchase equipment for their businesses in barbering, cosmetology, furniture manufacturing, electrical works, mechanics and other work-related skills.
The State Minister commended all participants and awardees and urged them to “maximise the opportunities made available to you through this programme and take responsibility to see things through in order to build a long-term commitment to your future.”
He also thanked the IDB for its partnership in the project and commended the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Runaway Bay HEART Hotel and other institutions, which played a significant role in ensuring the project’s success by welcoming the young persons into their internship programme.