As Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) boom continues, PM Andrew Holness drums up optimism
Jamaica’s business process outsourcing (BPO) sector has employed an additional 2,000 people with the opening of the Portmore Informatics Park in St Catherine.
The facility, which comprises four three-storey buildings, was constructed at a cost of $3.6 billion, which included upgrades of the original buildings and parking.
It has increased the Port Authority’s BPO space in Portmore by 300 per cent and islandwide by 13 per cent.
In his keynote address, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the development was emblematic of the Government’s support of the global services sector and, more important, its strategic objective to make Portmore Jamaica’s 15th parish.
“It is the fastest-growing employment creation endeavour in Jamaica, and regardless of the complaints, it is putting income in the pockets of over 52,000 Jamaicans. It is creating a basis and a ladder for progress, promotion, and prosperity,” Holness said.
The complaints to which Holness referred are persistent concerns that working conditions are akin to sweatshops – an allegation rejected by industry leaders.
The prime minister said that Portmore has the highest concentration of university graduates and is well positioned to become the Silicon Valley of Jamaica.
RIU eyes more Jamaican hotels
RIU Resorts will pump between US$80 million and US$100 million into its newest Jamaican resort, RIU Aquarelle in Trelawny, creating some 450 jobs in the long term and 800 during construction, says Carmen Riu, chief executive officer of the hotel chain.
Ms Riu had just completed the groundbreaking ceremony in Coopers Pen for a 700-room resort in the fastest-growing tourism area in the country when she revealed to The Gleaner how important Jamaica was to the chain, which was the first Spanish investor to construct a resort here.
Beaming with pride, the CEO, who already operates seven resorts between Negril and Ocho Rios, said 15 per cent of its 28,000 staff were based here.
“Jamaica has been good to us, and within another two to three years, we hope to build another resort here,” she said.
The chain, which has more than 100 hotels and accommodated millions of guests worldwide in 2021, was lauded by Prime Minister Andrew Holness for its contribution to Jamaica’s growth trajectory.
In his keynote address, Holness urged the Trelawny community to fully embrace the project as part of their local economy.
“For while they may not be the shareholders, we have to acknowledge them as stakeholders in the success of the project,” he argued.
Construction on the resort is estimated to last 14 months. RIU is Jamaica’s largest hotel operator and will boast more than 4,053 rooms upon completion of the project.
Holness commended the operators for their role in propelling Jamaica as one of the most sought-after destinations in the Caribbean.
He noted that the country’s global position did not emerge overnight. “The industry has taken on increased significance because the truth is the Government has focused on the industry and has given leadership and direction and emphasis to the industry. Tourism plays a critical role in the Government’s road to prosperity for the people,” the prime minister said.
KWL invests US$60 million
Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) will soon be able to accommodate two super post-Panamax vessels at the same time. This follows the implementation of expansion and capacity-building initiatives valued at US$60 million. The investment, which includes three initiatives, supports KWL’s thrust to establish Jamaica as a global logistics hub, a feat which CEO Mark Williams said the company is well on its way to achieving.
“Right now Kingston Wharves is the regional hub for one of the largest auto liner in the world in fact we moved over 150,000 car units last year. 70-80 per cent of that is for international markets. Last year, for example, we accommodated seven large auto liners within three days and that is phenomenal for any terminal in the world, more so in the Caribbean.”
The three initiatives are: The Redevelopment of Berth 7, Ashenheim Road Warehouse Complex and Kingston Wharves’ Crane #8 which was commissioned on Wednesday.
Williams stressed that the combined expectation of these initiatives is to underpin Kingston Wharves’ move into logistics services.
“We’ve been in there before, what we’re doing now is to have 300,000 sq ft of additional warehouse space. We’ll be doing order fulfilment which we weren’t doing before. So, we’re going into the full suite of logistics and this will be a global business for us,” he said.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Williams noted that there’s growing interest from countries who are looking to Jamaica as an ideal nearshoring territory.
“The Americas, US, Canada, etc, are looking again at the Caribbean to hold that type of inventory, do that light manufacturing, etc, and Kingston Wharves is preparing itself to facilitate that type of economic development.”