Olympic Legacy Programme to get Underway in Birmingham


A plan to create a lasting legacy from Jamaica’s participation in the 2012 Olympic Games in London has been put in train.
Leader of the Birmingham City Council, Councillor Mike Whitby has pledged to establish a team to explore opportunities for the island arising out of the city’s hosting of the Jamaican athletes’ training camp for the games.
Councillor Whitby, who spoke to Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), His Excellency Anthony Johnson on Friday (September 17), during the first official tour of the city, said that a team of “regeneration specialists” would be appointed to drive the process of facilitating Jamaican entrepreneurs in the city.
The High Commissioner, in endorsing the intuitive, requested that the council appoint a lead executive on the legacy programme to which Councillor Whitby agreed. Regular meetings will be held between the High Commission and the City Council to ensure targets and timescales are met.
Lamenting the relatively low level of entrepreneurial activity among the 60,000-strong Jamaican community in Birmingham, High Commissioner Johnson pointed to opportunities in the distribution of Jamaican food.
Councillor Whitby agreed, outlining that the city council had been busy promoting Jamaican food.
“I drive through Birmingham and see full-fronted Jamaican shops run by people of other backgrounds. I’m promoting Jamaican food so that Jamaicans will import it, sell it and get rich on it. We have to look at inspiring entrepreneurial skill within the Jamaican community. We have to work out how we encourage people to take the risks. The city council can only do so much but there comes a time when it has to be self supporting. Jamaicans have to start selling their food to white Europeans in order to add value and improve their profit margins,” he stated.
High Commissioner Johnson said he would like to see the establishment of up to 10 full service Jamaican restaurants in Birmingham to offer the city’s 1.5 million inhabitants the experience of Jamaican dining and culinary culture.
He said there were other areas of business where Jamaicans had interests and would benefit from the support of the council in establishing and growing their businesses.
Councillor Whitby, in the meantime, noted that the success of the sporting relationship between Jamaica and Birmingham thus far had set the stage for a successful cultural and economic legacy.
“We are not just looking at 2012. That is a chapter in the book…the full book will be written after that. I hope that we can both prosper economically and in perpetuity. We can see the opportunities and now we have to grasp them,” he added.
During his visit to the city, the High Commissioner toured the University of Birmingham’s sporting facilities where the Jamaican team will prepare ahead of the Olympics. He also met with black business leaders in the city and addressed Jamaicans at a community meeting.
High Commissioner Johnson was joined at the meeting by JAMPRO’s European Regional Manager, Laurence Jones; Minister Counsellor for Diaspora Affairs at the Jamaican High Commission in London, Lincoln Downer; and Jamaican community leader in Birmingham, Beverley Lindsay.

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