FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Two prominent political figures in Trelawny are excited over the prospect of employment and other opportunities expected to stem from the proposed transformation of former sugar cane lands in Trelawny into four mega free zones and special economic zone (SEZ) developments.
Recently, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Senator Aubyn Hill toured lands situated in Hyde Hall, Long Pond, and Lottery, near the Hampden Estates and at Georgia, on which the proposed projects are expected to be developed.
He announced that during the eighth World Free Zone Organisation’s Annual International Conference (AICE2022), to be staged from June 13-17 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Montego Bay, St James, the projects — including WEST77 Tech Park, which when fully developed, will be an internationally recognised epicentre for technology and innovation in Jamaica, will be promoted to attract investments.
AICE2022 conference delegates, many from countries such as Panama, the Philippines, Morocco, Dubai, Curacao, Costa Rica, India, and Argentina, are expected to tour the greenfield sites during the event.
“The Silicon Valley-type project will have an extensive range of users who will create a vibrant and unique business and educational ecosystem. These will include STEM schools, business start-ups, universities, testing labs, and multinational corporations (MNCs),” Hill stated.
For her part, North Trelawny Member of Parliament Tova Hamilton thinks Trelawny is finally getting the attention that it deserves.
“I think our people have been neglected for quite some time and I think we need these kinds of developments to force us out of the sugar history. We need this to force us out of that sugar history and to think big and to think global and for our young people to realise that there are other options out there, especially since in the west we have been having a lot of problems with scamming and gangs and all of that. So we can actually now engage these idle hands for productivity,” Hamilton argued.
Mayor of Falmouth Councillor C Junior Gager is equally receptive of the proposed projects.
“We are more than pleased to know that Trelawny has got the space for the proposed mega projects. It is something we would endorse wholeheartedly. And of course, the people of Trelawny will be more than pleased because this is really creating opportunities upon opportunities,” Gager expressed.
Olympus Sports City is another of the projects that forms a part of the proposed developments. It is expected to “form the central point of world-class sports infrastructure on the island, with the best sporting technology and equipment for its development to nurture champions and winners in a sustainable environment”.
“Catering to baseball, track and field, cricket, soccer, coaches and trainers, sports fans and visitors, the state-of-the-art multisport complex, will offer international standards for the needs of amateur athletes to become champions,” Minister Hill pointed out, indicated a statement from Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), the lead agency behind the conference and the proposed projects.
“The project will incorporate the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium, with access to 694 acres of land owned by the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ).”
During the AICE2022, Trelawny will also be marketed as a major location for investment in entertainment with the proposed Xanadu SEZ to cover 450 acres of the Long Pond Estate at Georgia in the parish.
With a vibrant and inspirational ambiance for arts and cultural societies, the proposed project is expected to be a media and creative hub that will provide advanced infrastructure to foster growth and allow the users of the zone to work in synergy and to be highly creative.
According the JSEZA release, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange said Xanadu is also expected to lure large-scale movie productions, and aspiring media professionals.
Grange noted that this SEZ is proposed to be an innovative mixed-use zone that merges a Dubai media city and Dubai creative cluster.
Additionally, Hill revealed that the fourth project, Pandora, will open the door for pharmaceutical-like manufacturers to capitalise on over 300 individual medicinal plants that are particular to Jamaica.
“They can do their pharmaceutical work here, repackage and then export from Jamaica, to the Caribbean, Latin America and to the biggest market in the world—the United States,” Hill stated.
According to Hill, AICE will parade Jamaica on the international stage, not just the zone community, but the entire Jamaican business community.
“We are all in this partnership together for resilience, sustainability, and prosperity — and the exposure of Jamaica’s business ecosystem to the globe via the AICE is invaluable,” he argued.