MONTEGO BAY, St James — Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has lauded previous Jamaican leaders who, despite financial constraints facing the country, made sacrifices to undertake astronomical improvements to the country's infrastructure, including the road network.
"And that's why when I rode over this convention centre and looked at the developments, the roads, the bridges, the improvements, I smiled with pride. Because I have been coming to Jamaica for more than 10 years and I remembered when it took, to get to Negril, two-and-a-half hours," Reed said.
"Now you drive down the same roads and you see two of them. And while you smile about it right now, there was a leader who was alone in a room with advisors who had to make the call to make the investments when the money in the treasury might not have been full. These are not easy decisions to make."
Reed was speaking Friday evening during the official opening ceremony of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) Expo 2013, in partnership with the Culinary Federation of Jamaica (CFJ) Taste of Jamaica at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
He said that both the city of Atlanta and Jamaica have recently celebrated significant 50-year milestones. The former recently observed its son of the soil, Martin Luther King's famous march on Washington; while the latter, last year celebrated five decades of political independence.
He encouraged his Montego Bay counterpart to build on the infrastructural platform erected by his political predecessors.
"Mayor Harris, you need to be looking at the next 50 years. You can't be sitting on your laurels and talk about what other folks did, and all of the things that they accomplish. Because we are the ones who are responsible right here and right now," the Atlanta mayor said.
"And when you look around Montego Bay and Jamaica at the facilities and assets you have, you all are making a 10-year, 20-year, 30-year decision."
He also called on the business community to support the Montego Bay mayor and the head of the chamber, Nathan Robb, to invest in infrastructure.
"I think Jamaica is on a similar trajectory (as Atlanta). But we both have an obligation to make a decision to invest in our future. When your chamber leader Mr Robb, and when your mayor call on you to invest in infrastructure I see all around; to improve your bridges, your roads and your airports, support your mayor, stick with him. Because when you invest in infrastructure development and make the hard decisions, although they are not easy at the time, tough it out," Reed recommended.
Atlanta and Montego Bay have been twinned since 1984 and a similar partnership was forged between the chambers of commerce of both cities.