JIS News

Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Michael Stern, has said that persons in rural Jamaica are serious about taking advantage of opportunities in the export sector.
Speaking at the opening of the Export Centre and Business Information Point, in the St. Elizabeth Co-operative Credit Union Complex in Santa Cruz, on December 4, the State Minister said that despite the many challenges faced by business operators, they continue to seek out opportunities, build local export capacity, thus ensuring the continued growth and development of micro, medium and small enterprises.
“The reality is that we in rural Jamaica want to earn foreign exchange through export, so this must be facilitated. We not only want to build a strong local base, but we want to be properly equipped with the necessary information and the technology that will allow us to perform effectively in the global marketplace,” he stressed.
He said that with the growth of businesses in Santa Cruz, the Business Information Point is timely. “This centre, I am sure, will go a far way in improving export competitiveness in this part of the island. It will have a positive impact on our national export performance, because once we have better quality information and services, we will be able to improve our production, marketing and distribution,” Mr. Stern argued.
He reiterated the administration’s support for the micro business sector. “The Government continues to roll out a number of programmes and has been making every effort to provide support points across the island. So far, we have implemented some seven business centres across the island, and we certainly welcome private sector participation and partnership in the decentralisation of these services,” he added.
“In addition, the Government has been promoting the establishment of incubators across the island, as part of our thrust to support entrepreneurship at the micro, small and medium levels. What we are seeking is to provide physical accommodation and a range of support services for start-up businesses, so that they can get their ideas off the ground and grow. Through the provision and utilisation of these facilities, we also help to reduce business failures,” the State Minister said.
He also noted that the Government in seeking to create a more investor friendly environment for micro, small and medium enterprises, with the establishment of Entrepreneurial Production Centres across the island.
“These will be private entities located in depressed communities, targeting individuals with low levels of skill and little or no employment opportunities. These centres will provide cost-sharing grants, interest-free loans for infrastructure refurbishment, and a 50 per cent subsidised lease for equipment and machinery,” he informed.
The project in Santa Cruz is a collaborative effort between the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA), and the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP), and is jointly funded by the Government and the European Union.

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