THE Jamaica Observer will this evening name the winner of its Business Leader Corporate Award from the 15 nominated firms that have, and continue to be major contributors to the economy of post-Independence Jamaica.
The stories of the nominees and their transformative impact on the country started appearing in the Observer on November 6 and ran through to last Friday.
Representing industries from manufacturing and agro-processing, to financial services, construction and tourism, the 15 firms 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.
They are: West Indies Home Contractors, Jamaica Producers Group, Caribbean Cement Company Ltd, Pan Jamaican Investment Trust Ltd, Wisynco Group, the Hendrickson family of companies, Victoria Mutual Building Society, Red Stripe, Worthy Park Sugar Estate Ltd, the Gleaner Company Ltd, Scotiabank Jamaica Ltd, Jamaica Broilers Group, Jamaica National Group, J Wray and Nephew Ltd, and GraceKennedy Ltd.
This year's Business Leader Award is designed to highlight Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence. To qualify for nomination, the firms had to have been in operation since or before 1962, or can trace back their 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 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.
An eight-member award selection committee 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 Jamaica Observer.
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 are:
* Ambassador Audrey Marks, founder and principal of Paymaster Jamaica and a former Observer Business Leader nominee.
* Gassan Azan, founder and principal of MegaMart and Bashco stores, and a former Observer Business Leader nominee.
* Audrey Hinchcliffe, founder and principal of Manpower and Maintenance Ltd, and a former Observer Business Leader nominee.
* Fred Smith, principal of Tropical Tours Ltd, and a former Observer Business Leader nominee.
* Charles Ross, principal of Sterling Asset Management, and a former Observer Business Leader 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.
On Friday, Digicel, in commenting on the growth of business over the past 50 years, said that Jamaica has seen positive transformation, both economically and socially over the period and the 15 nominees are some of the businesses in Jamaica that are to be commended for their role in helping the nation to grow and develop.
"Importantly, the hard work and commitment of these businesses over the past 50 years have undoubtedly helped to position Jamaica as a place to attract foreign investment from companies like Digicel," the mobile giant said in its sponsor's message.
"In this historical year... with national pride continuing to be at an all-time high, this is an opportune time to recognise those companies who have stayed the course — through the ups and downs of the economy — and still continue to make a positive impact on the socio-economic growth of Jamaica," Digicel said.
The company pointed out that it has supported the Jamaica Observer Business Leader Awards for a number of years now and that it looked forward to the event each year for several reasons, chief among them being the fact that "any event that the Jamaica Observer is involved in is a well sought-after event of the highest calibre".
Added Digicel: "Secondly, and most importantly, the Jamaica Observer Business Leader Awards fittingly brings national attention to those individuals and businesses that continue to make a great impact on Jamaica's economy in one way or the other which encourages us as a people to continue to strive for excellence in what we do. To that end, Digicel commends Moses Jackson and the Jamaica Observer team for the vision behind these coveted awards."
Jackson founded and convened the Jamaica Observer Business Leader Award programme during the years when he was the newspaper's business editor.