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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The business community in Spanish Town and other stakeholders in St. Catherine, are currently engaged in efforts to ensure that persons in the parish are trained, so they can get most of the over 10,000 jobs that will be offered in the Spanish Town Free Zone.
  • Masada Jamaica Limited has entered into a concessionary agreement with Gulfray America’s Manufacturing Limited, for the development and management of the Spanish Town Free Zone.
  • “This is a boost for our country, it is significant,” says Head of the CMI, Dr. Fritz Pinnock, in response to the offering of the 300 scholarships.

The business community in Spanish Town and other stakeholders in St. Catherine, are currently engaged in efforts to ensure that persons in the parish are trained, so they can get most of  the over 10,000 jobs that will be offered in the Spanish Town Free Zone.

The facility, the first phase of which is expected to be completed in June,  is being made possible through Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) investment drive.

The investment is worth over US$350 million, and is a joint venture involving Gulfray Americas and China National Automotive Industry International Corporation.

President of the St. Catherine Chamber of Commerce, Dennis Robotham, says his organization, the St. Catherine Parish Council, and the Social Development Commission (SDC) are partnering to sensitize the public on the employment potential of the investment, and to help training institutions focus on the skills needed to equip residents of the parish for the jobs.

“We are dealing with the schools, particularly the high schools (offering) vocational subjects, looking at manufacturing and the assembling of motor vehicles,” he tells JIS News in an  interview.

The Spanish Town Free Zone will include the refining and regeneration of petroleum products; manufacturing of composites and insulation of material; vehicle assembly; auto parts re-manufacturing and distribution; manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and nutraceutical products, as well as research and manufacturing of tobacco products.

Mr. Robotham adds that with advanced work being done on  the Caymanas Economic Zone, and a highway which links the parish to the major corridors of commerce in the country, Spanish Town and St. Catherine will experience much economic boost.

“We have the land space, and all the logistics to become one of the most viable towns and parishes in Jamaica,” he says, emphasizing that investors are once again establishing businesses in the area, as crime continues to decline.

Executive Director of  Masada Jamaica Limited, Dr. Robert Melamede, informs JIS News that his team spent months traversing the globe exposing “our major suppliers to  the unique opportunity that exists in Jamaica at this time.”

“As a result, we have signed agreements with local and international investors to provide customized manufacturing, distribution, office  and operational spaces, and offer long-term leases,” the Executive Director says.

Masada Jamaica Limited has entered into a concessionary agreement with Gulfray America’s Manufacturing Limited, for the development and management of the Spanish Town Free Zone.

Some of the companies that will be operating in the Free Zone are located in the United Arab Emirates, India, Dominican Republic, Singapore, the United States, and China.

“In some instances, we have been able to successfully convince companies to relocate to our economic zone from other parts of the world,” Dr. Melamede informs.

Meanwhile, President of JAMPRO, Diane Edwards, tells JIS News that in any urban regeneration project,  when you start to change people’s lives (and) environment, you start to make people proud.”

“When persons see that there is an alternative to crime, you start to see people buy into a different paradigm,” she says.

The operators of the Free Zone have made provisions for 300 engineering scholarships for Jamaican students.

Dr. Melamede says this  will “create the necessary skills to deal with the cutting edge technology the companies will be deploying within the Zone.”

The scholarships will be linked to internships, in order for the students to enter the workforce at the Zone, at the end of their studies. The operators of the Zone will be collaborating with the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), for training and certification of some of its workers.

“This is a boost for our country, it is significant,” says Head of  the CMI, Dr. Fritz Pinnock, in response to the offering of the 300 scholarships.

For JAMPRO’s President, the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO), sector will benefit from the scholarships. “We have done a lot of work in bringing BPO and software programming companies to this country, and they will also benefit from this kind of engineering skill,” Miss Edwards says.