Commendable expressions of confidence from National Baking Company and Red Stripe
New tanks inside Red Stripe's cellar at its plant on Spanish Town Road in Kingston (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

Two stories published by this newspaper in recent weeks have warmed out heart and further cemented our belief that the country's economy is being managed in a manner that generates investor confidence.

Last month we told of National Baking Company's $6.5-billion commitment to the construction of a new plant in Montego Bay, St James, and two new distribution centres — one in St Ann and the other in Manchester, while in yesterday's edition we reported Red Stripe's pending $2.2-billion expansion of its brewing operations.

In the case of National Baking Company, the planned St Ann and Manchester operations will improve distribution logistics for the company's products as it prepares for a new phase of growth in the local and export market.

Mr Gary "Butch" Hendrickson, national's chairman and CEO — who is easily one of the most patriotic Jamaicans ever — told us that, by Easter next year, the Mandeville operation will be up and running, while ground will be broken this year for the centre in St Ann.

The production plant in Montego Bay, he said, has already received approval from the St James Municipal Corporation and, while he didn't give a date for ground-breaking, he was clear that once that is done the 120,000-square-foot plant would be completed in 22 months.

These investments will result in National increasing production of its impressively large range of products, which distinctly inform consumers that they are made in Jamaica and, as such, help to further promote the island in overseas markets where they are available.

A demonstration of Mr Hendrickson's commitment to Jamaica is the fact that, despite his having to export his products frozen, he has chosen to maintain production here.

That decision is influenced by his determination to "employ as many Jamaicans as possible", he told us. As such, when this phase of expansion is complete, the number of Jamaicans on staff will jump from the current 870 to 990.

Fast-forward to the investment by Red Stripe, a company which, since its founding as Desnoes & Geddes many years ago, has been one of Jamaica's stalwart manufacturers.

According to the company, its Cellars Expansion for Red Stripe project will facilitate a 34 per cent expansion in beer production, improve operational sustainability, boost efficiency and safety, and further mitigate hygiene risks. It will also increase storage capacity, strengthen the local supply chain, and create direct and indirect economic opportunities.

Red Stripe's Managing Director Mr Luis Prata has stated clearly and firmly that the investment "symbolises Red Stripe's confidence in Jamaica's improved investment climate, optimistic macroeconomic forecast, and increase in consumer confidence".

Added Mr Prata: "All signs show that Jamaica is on an upward trajectory, and this expansion is our way of confirming Red Stripe's continued confidence in the local business landscape."

Those are not words to take lightly. Investors don't put their money into economies that are poorly managed.

There are, of course, other companies that have and are investing more in Jamaica at this time. Their investments may not be as bold as National Baking Company's and Red Stripe's, but they give us cause for hope.

We congratulate and welcome them all.

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