FIFTEEN companies have been nominated for the Jamaica Observer Business Leader Corporate Award in a programme that is this year turning the spotlight on firms that have, and continue to be major contributors to the economy of post-Independence Jamaica.
The names of the firms and the stories of their transformative impact on the country will be published in the Observer beginning next week, as the newspaper goes full flight into its annual award programme that will culminate with a formal presentation on Sunday, December 2 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.
The group of 15, representing industries from manufacturing and agro-processing, to financial services, construction and tourism, were nominated from a list of 33 of the country's most productive, iconic and enduring institutions and collectively represent a sizeable portion of the island's annual gross domestic product.
This year's Business Leader Award is a nod to Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence. To qualify for nomination, the firm would have had to be in operation since or before 1962, or can trace back its roots at least 50 years deep into the Jamaican economy.
Firms were eligible to be considered for the award whether they were locally or foreign owned, held in private hands or listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.
The Jamaica Observer assembled an eight-member award selection committee which had the weighty task of assessing the merits of the 33 firms that formed the broad pool from which the 15 nominees eventually emerged. The initial research on the potential nominees was undertaken by the newspaper.
Collectively, the judges themselves brought to the table entrepreneurial depth and scholarship — many having themselves been nominated for the Observer Business Leader Award at some stage during the 16 years of the programme's existence.
The committee members will select the Business Leader Corporate from the list of 15 nominees on the afternoon of the award presentation.
The committee members are:
* Ambassador Audrey Marks, founder and principal of Paymaster Jamaica and a former nominee.
* Gassan Azan, founder and principal of MegaMart and Bashco stores, and a former nominee.
* Audrey Hinchcliffe, founder and principal of Manpower and Maintenance Ltd, and a former nominee.
* Fred Smith, principal of Tropical Tours Ltd, and a former nominee.
* Charles Ross, principal of Sterling Asset Management, and a former nominee.
* Dr Clement Jackson, economist and former IDB country consultant.
* Professor Neville Ying of the Mona School of Business and Management.
* Ian Neita, assistant vice chairman of the ATL Group, the parent of the Jamaica Observer Ltd.
The decision by the Observer to focus on companies represents a departure from the 15-year tradition of the Business Leader programme of nominating individuals rather than corporations, but given Jamaica's 50th year of Independence, the newspaper "wanted to demonstrate all the things that have gone right with Jamaica over the past 50 years".
This year, four corporate sponsors joined with the Observer to bring the project to fruition, all citing as one of the bases for their support, the opportunity that the long-term success of these corporations present as a potential roadmap for the survival and success of younger companies within the economy.
The sponsors are: Digicel Jamaica Ltd, MegaMart, Supreme Ventures, and J Wray and Nephew. The Carreras Group is an endorser of the programme.
The Business Leader Corporate Award stresses the scale of operation of each nominee, the level of its direct and indirect employment, foreign exchange earnings, and the impact it has had on fostering the growth and development of other businesses.