Big boost!

Big boost!

BPIA plans to construct US$900,000 business incubator at MoBay Freezone

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau

Thursday, November 28, 2013

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Chairman of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), Yoni Epstein says his association plans to construct a 200-seat incubator at a cost of US$900,000 in the Montego Bay Freezone next year, in a bid to attract more companies who want to enter the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector in the resort city of Montego Bay.

The bulk of the funding to make the incubator — which is a call centre facility with cubicles containing requisite infrastructure — a reality, he said, will be made available through a grant from an overseas-based agency.

"This incubator will help put the already available call centre space into the market where existing growing players that may have a fast ramp-up can rent the space for a short-term period, while it builds out somewhere else, or in a situation where a new entrant is coming in and wants to ramp up quickly and test the market, they can rent space in this facility for a short period of time while it builds out a space," he explained.

"It will be a revolving door with either persons renting small portions of it, or the entire space for a short period of time," added Epstein, who was earlier this year recognised among the 50 most influential executives in nearshore outsourcing in Latin America and the Caribbean.

He said the facility will also assist in the training of employees; help to create more awareness of the association — not only locally but globally — that Jamaica is a true player in the BPO sector in the region.

"This no doubt will drive more foreign direct investment and more growth for our local players as well, so that we can see more growth and success in the industry," said Epstein, who was recently re-elected chairman of the one-year-old BPIAJ.

Players in the sector have long argued that growth in the industry, which currently employs 14,000 persons in Kingston and Montego Bay, is being hampered mainly because of the unavailability of space to set up call centres.

Complaints, too, were made about the non- availability of trained workers, but Epstein noted that that matter is now being addressed through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the HEART Trust/ NTA, which will result in an injection of roughly 3,000 trained workers in the market.

Meanwhile, Epstein, who is also the CEO of Island Outsourcers, told the Observer West that some 2,000 more jobs will be created in the ICT sector at the Montego Bay Freezone during the course of next year.

So far this year, he added, some 1,500 jobs in the BPO sector were created in the Montego Bay Freezone, which now accounts for roughly 9,000 of the 14,000 persons employed in the sector in Kingston and Montego Bay.

According to Epstein, the additional seats will be created mainly through the expansion of the existing 30 BPO companies operating in the Montego Bay Freezone, as well as the addition of new companies entering the sector.

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