ST JAMES, Jamaica — Financial advisor, Oral Heaven, has been installed as the new president of the 89-year-old Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Heaven took office during the vibrant business group’s annual general meeting held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre Wednesday evening. He takes over from journalist, Janet Silvera. She served the organisation for three consecutive years after replacing banking and investment executive, Winston Lawson, who resigned suddenly in 2019.
In his acceptance speech Heaven, who served as Silvera's first vice-president, highlighted several projects and activities the Chamber will be launching and or continuing under his watch.
These include continued lobbying for the completion of work being done on the ailing Cornwall Regional Hospital and installation of cameras for the JamaicaEye initiative. He also wants the Chamber to play a greater role in ensuring that residents benefit from the construction boom currently taking place in the parish.
In her final address as president, Silvera listed gains made during her watch and spoke of the need to ensure the organisation remains vibrant.
"I sincerely believe that at the heart of any good, strong, resilient municipality there needs to be a firm, reliable and robust chamber of commerce. Local chambers of commerce are our nation's strongest business advocates, providing a voice to hundreds of communities across the country. When businesses succeed, communities prosper and local chambers play a pivotal role in empowering businesses to grow and thrive even in the most challenging times,” she said.
She urged those listening not to forget how they have benefitted from being part of the organisation.
"This is where you started, many of you, and this is where you probably got most of the support you needed in order to get your company to where it is today. So, I'm imploring the companies that were born in Montego Bay to understand that they have a responsibility to ensure that this lobby group not only survives but thrives," she pleaded.
Turning to the issue of the organisation’s financial viability, Silvera pointed out that it was impossible to sustain with only membership dues.
"It is critical for businesses to understand that, after you put in your membership fee, you can also donate to the running of the facility because, in the long run, it is you that will benefit," she said.
An independent audited financial report provided by HBG Associates Chartered Accountants has indicated that as of December 31, 2021 the Chamber's revenue from subscription fees was $5,643,378 in comparison to $4,268,199 the previous year.
Its gross profit for year 2021 was $7,559,054 and $9,798,829 the year before.
– Anthony Lewis