DBJ provides US$6m to fund new BPO centre

BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 31, 2016

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Dr Guna Muppuri, CEO of Bioprist Knowledge Parks, has indicated that construction of a $740-million, 75,000-square-foot business process outsourcing (BPO) centre in Montego Freeport will begin in April this year. Yesterday the medical doctor and business executive signed a letter of commitment with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) for US$6 million in loan funding for the project.


DBJ sources said the loan terms included 4.5 per cent annual interest and repayment in 12 years. Construction is expected to be concluded over 12 months with employment expected for 1000 people.


Dr Muppuri, speaking at the signing, said that he was already in discussions with a "large hospital campus" for the centre’s first contract, adding that the entity was also interested in training workers in medical coding.


Space in the centre is to be leased to BPO companies, with Muppuri saying that he was especially interested in science and medicine, noting that his focus was health care companies.


Managing Director of the DBJ, Milverton Reynolds, said that in partnership with the PetroCaribe Development Fund, the development bank has lent a total of US$46 million to ICT ventures which are engaged in developing a total of 670,000 square feet in operating space. Employment expected from the ventures, he said, was 12,000. Loan terms, he said, were 4.5 per cent with 12 years to pay.


The Bioprist project, Dr Muppuri said, is being pursued in three phases: the first on 31 acres in Freeport, St James; the second in Sandy Bay, Hanover, on a ten-acre ocean front property; and the third on 20 acres and also in Hanover — some eight miles away from the Kenilworth Heart Academy.


Park One in Freeport is expected to include secure features, fibre optics and communications networks for a fully equipped plug and play facility, food court, ATMs, pool tables, indoor games room, netball and basketball courts and a day care centre for children of the workforce.


Guest speaker at the signing, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell, said more BPO companies were being attracted to Jamaica because of the presence of big brands including Xerox, Sutherland Global and Vistaprint; the fact that the island was the third largest English-speaking country in the region; and the low turnover rate among workers.


He said that rates in the telecoms sector would continue to fall, making investment more attractive and that energy costs which are now at US$0.18 cents per KWh were set to go lower with the commissioning of three renewable projects this year.


Ron McKay, president of the American Chamber of Commerce, said at the signing that the concept being developed by Dr Muppuri of building a complete community around one skills set was "the wave of the future in the region", adding that it was used in the Philippines and in India.


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