Against the backdrop of a growing global services sector in Portmore, as well as highly educated population, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has painted a vision of making the municipality the “Silicon Valley of Jamaica”.
In his keynote address at the official opening of the Portmore Informatics Park on Thursday, May 7, the prime minister noted that, “Portmore has the highest concentration of university graduates in Jamaica…[and] is absolutely now well positioned to become the Silicon Valley of Jamaica.”
Situated in the northern California, San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley is known as a global centre of innovation that is home to companies engaged in the production of technology, software and Internet-based solutions.
While pointing out that Silicon Valley is now the third-richest area code in the world because of its knowledge economy, Holness shared that he hopes to see a similar transformation in Portmore, building on the business and knowledge process outsourcing sector.
“So, if I had the highest concentration of university graduates, what kind of economy do I need to create here? We need to be creating the knowledge economy here. And how we start up the knowledge economy? Well, one of the ways to start would be with the business processing and knowledge processing,” he explained.
For this reason, Holness said, he has been encouraging the Port Authority of Jamaica and other private sector players to construct facilities like the Portmore Informatics Park to house companies in the global services sector.
With the addition of 157,000 square feet in new space, the Portmore Informatics Park, which was built by the Port Authority at a cost of $3.2 billion (US$21 million), has increased in size by three-times, complementing an already existing 50,000 square feet.
At present, the park houses four three-storey buildings that are already under lease agreements to four companies: Sutherland Global Services, Hinduja Global Services, ADV Communications Ltd, and At Point Jamaica. They employ over 2,000 team members to support companies in the banking and finance, air travel, electronics retail, telecommunications, e-commerce, and energy sectors.
According to president of the Port Authority of Jamaica Professor Gordon Shirley, “The commissioning of this building today (May 7) is the culmination of a project and the result of a journey that began several years ago, from concept to design, to funding, to contracting and the most critical phase has been the construction phase, working with several external contractors to arrive here today.”
Looking ahead, Shirley said the Port Authority will continue to support and involve in the municipality, ensuring it follows a “similar enabling trajectory.
“It is for that reason why we are working on establishing an 80-seat incubator within this park, aimed at driving higher-value services,” Professor Shirley announced.
He added: “This purposed designed park was customised with the intention of supporting work and play, which is characteristic of global services and the park is already serving its intension of scaling up the centres of excellence in Jamaica that rival any other development within the Latin American region.”
In this regard, the prime minister highlighted that among the components that global players look for when investing in a country is infrastructure and a regulatory framework to support their business operation. He also clarified that infrastructure was not limited to buildings but also included high-speed Internet connectivity.
“They also want to know that there is an ecosystem [so that] when you put everything together an ecosystem supports the business. Portmore can be that ecosystem,” Holness stated.
As part of this thrust to develop the ecosystem for the global services sector and by extension special economic zones in Jamaica, the prime minster said his Administration has asked the Port Authority to use the returns from the development of facilities like Portmore Informatics Park to reinvest in the development of other special economic zones, especially the Caymanas Special Economic Zone.
He said that by reinvesting in special economic zones, it will create more opportunities for Jamaica such as accelerating plans for the country’s logistics operations.