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Challenge!

MoBay business community could select new president next week

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large Western Bureau cummingsm@hamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 24, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James

THE influential Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry could have a new president next Wednesday, when it stages its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Wexford Hotel in that resort city.

The Jamaica Observer West has been reliably informed that at the much-anticipated meeting, 1st vice-president of the chamber Gloria Henry will mount a challenge against incumbent president Nathan Robb — who succeeded Davon Crump last year — for the chamber's top post.

Under the chamber's constitution, a president cannot serve more than two consecutive terms.

The Observer West has also been told that it is not customary for an incumbent president to be challenged for the post after serving one term.

When contacted earlier this week, Henry, who is also the assistant vice-president of operations and customer service at the Montego Bay Freezone, said although she has been approached by a number of members, she is yet to decide whether she will be offering herself for the position.

"To be honest, I have been approached by a number of persons within the chamber to go for the position, and I have considered it as well, but there is still time between now and the AGM to make up my mind. I am really still considering it, and so I am not really sure what position I will be offering myself for," she explained.

She argued that members of the chamber have seen the kind of energy and interest that she has shown towards various projects in Montego Bay, adding, "They are of the view that I can add value to the chamber and to the development of Montego Bay in general."

Just over 200 members are eligible to cast their ballots at next Wednesday's AGM.

Henry, who has been a member of the 82-year-old chamber for about a decade, has spearheaded a number of projects — mainly fundraising initiatives — including the successful 80th anniversary ball of the chamber and its annual food fair.

A vice-president for two consecutive terms, she has also chaired several Expo Committees and has sat on other bodies, which lobbied government for several infrastructural development projects in Montego Bay.

On Monday, Robb, who is an attorney, told the Observer West that he was not aware that he would be facing a challenge for the presidency of the chamber.

"I am not aware of any such thing and I will be seeking re-election, if I am nominated," he said.

During his tenure, Robb has been criticised in some quarters for not "being visible enough."

When asked what were the chamber's achievements during his first one-year term in office, Robb stressed that "the chamber's achievements will be presented at next week's AGM."

"My presidency has been one of transparency and involvement of the entire directorship. The chamber is not about any individual. The chamber is about an institution that must see to the challenges of Montego Bay, and not the personalities of Montego Bay," he added.

Yesterday, Chairman of the Business Process Industry of Jamaica (BPIA) Yoni Epstein told the Observer West that Henry would have his full backing, should she decide to offer herself for the presidency of the chamber.

"I would most definitely support her. She is a hard-working and well-respected woman in the Montego Bay business community and she is very integral in the success of the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) sector, more specifically in the Montego Bay Freezone," said Epstein, who has been a member of the chamber for just over two years.

"From my experience with her, she has Montego Bay and Jamaica at heart, and business in general at heart, and I think she will be an excellent candidate for the president of the chamber, and I fully support her."

He added that Henry with her team would be able to regain the oomph that the chamber has lost over the past year.

Meanwhile, Henry said should she become the next president of the chamber, special emphasis will be placed on the agricultural sector.

"It's a passion that I have held for the longest while. During our expo last year we facilitated high-level discussions with persons involved in the development of the agro parks concept and some very vital information was shared which pointed to some of the concerns that I have held that Montego Bay and St James on the whole can do much better in agriculture, and that the parish itself should be considered for an agro- park. This is something that I really believe can help to stimulate growth," she argued.

She added that business process outsourcing and other services in the financial sector would also be given priority attention.

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