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Jamaica Stands To Benefit From SEZ Investment

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Jamaica stands to benefit significantly from investment in special economic zones (SEZ) and the country’s bid to become a global logistics hub, says Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill.

SEZs are areas within a country that are created to facilitate rapid economic growth, by leveraging tax incentives as a way of attracting foreign investment and technological advancement.

Logistics services are strongly associated with trade expansion and export diversification.

Citing the example of countries such as Singapore, Israel and Qatar, with relatively comparable populations but significantly higher gross domestic product (GDP) per capita than Jamaica, Minister Hill argued that Jamaica cannot attain economic wealth by limiting output and markets.

“We need to export a lot more, but it’s important that we export not just goods but also services. What local businesses must do, if we are going to change from three million people with a small per-capita GDP to three million people with a rich per-capita GDP, is that people who trade must now look to invest in our country to manufacture, build, package, repackage, assemble things and provide services that we sell to the world. That [will] bring in hard currency to make the little man in our country better off,” he pointed out to JIS News.

He said the initial investment from local businesses to facilitate the recommended activities, paired with existing incentives offered through the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), plays a part in making Jamaica attractive to international investors.

For his part, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the JSEZA, Gary Scott, said that linkages established through the Authority will ensure that the local economy benefits as a result of the incentives provided to the multinational companies.

“When these multinational corporations are operating from Jamaica, they are purchasing certain goods and services from the local economy. That is why the incentive scheme that we established under the Special Economic Zone Authority removes things like general consumption tax (GCT).

“It is not because [we want] to not have zone operators pay GCT; it is to encourage purchasing more of the goods and services from the domestic territory. So, what we are ensuring is the building out of linkage programmes that will allow for the companies in the zones to interact more freely with companies outside of the zone and purchase goods and services,” explained Mr. Scott.

Meanwhile, the JSEZA CEO pointed out that post-pandemic, Jamaica has been presented with the opportunity to maximise on pharmaceutical supply chain needs, which were heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From what we have heard, there are a number of investors worldwide… that are looking for their next location to establish their ability to provide supplies and support to the largest consumer markets, which are the North American and South American markets,” Mr. Scott noted.

From June 13 to 17, Jamaica will host international investors and free zone operators at the World Free Zones Organization’s Annual International Conference and Exhibition (AICE 2022) in Montego Bay, St. James, with the aim of securing investments for the country.

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Businessuite News24

Corporate Feature: BlackSlate Holdings Group: Pioneering Investment Excellence and Global Impact

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In the dynamic landscape of private investments, BlackSlate Holdings Group Limited stands out as a beacon of innovation and strategic foresight. As a privately owned Jamaican registered holding company, BlackSlate orchestrates a diverse array of companies and investments that span the United States and the Caribbean. This article delves into the essence of BlackSlate, examining its commitment to delivering secure returns, strategic investment focus, corporate support structure, and the profound impact of The Walkbout Foundation.

Securing Returns in a Diverse Portfolio:

BlackSlate’s primary objective is to provide its select group of shareholders with safe and consistent returns through a meticulously curated portfolio of regional and international investments. The company’s adept management oversees investments in wholly owned subsidiaries, real estate, patents, trademarks, stocks, and other tradable assets. This approach not only ensures stability but also positions BlackSlate as a pioneer in navigating the complexities of the modern investment landscape.

Strategic Investment Focus:

BlackSlate’s strategic focus centers around identifying and securing private equity positions in small and medium-sized companies with robust business models and growth potential. This distinctive approach has allowed BlackSlate to carve a niche in the market, creating a well-diversified investment profile that seamlessly integrates technology, real estate, and enriching travel experiences.

Unifying Corporate Support:

Beyond financial growth, BlackSlate recognizes the importance of unifying its investments and businesses under a centralized corporate structure. This commitment to cohesive management ensures optimal efficiency in policy direction and management services, setting the stage for sustained success.

The Walkbout Foundation: Fostering Global Experiences:

At the core of BlackSlate’s mission is The Walkbout Foundation, a testament to the company’s commitment to making a positive impact. This foundation, in addition to supporting environmental activities, champions travel as a transformative force for developing human capacity and experiences. Annually, BlackSlate sponsors individuals under the age of 25, enabling them to explore diverse cultures, cuisines, and beverages on the global stage. This initiative is funded through a percentage of the company’s net revenues, exemplifying BlackSlate’s dedication to creating lasting value beyond financial metrics.

Conclusion:

BlackSlate Holdings Group Limited emerges as a trailblazer in the world of private investments, combining strategic acumen with a commitment to global impact. As the company continues to navigate the complexities of the investment landscape, its focus on securing returns, strategic investment approach, unified corporate support, and philanthropic initiatives through The Walkbout Foundation solidify BlackSlate’s position as a leader in investment excellence.

www.blackslateholdings.com

 

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Entrepreneurship

Development Bank of Jamaica Re-Opens Innovation Grant Application Window

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The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), through its Boosting Innovation Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems (BIGEE), is pleased to announce that the Application Window for its Innovation Grant Fund (IGF) is now open, effective January 2, 2024. The Application Window will remain open for six (6) weeks, until February 13, 2024.

The Innovation Grant Fund (IGF) is an opportunity for medium-sized Jamaican companies with new and innovative products and service to access grant funding in the amount of Twenty million Jamaican Dollars (J$20 million).

Christopher Brown, Programme Manager, BIGEE states; “The DBJ is delighted at the projects we have funded in the last three iteration, since we began in 2020. To date we have awarded grants to twelve (12) medium-sized Jamaican companies representing an investment by the Bank of J$190 million. The majority of the projects have been successfully completed and the remaining are now in the Close Out phase; all of which has recorded growth and on an upward trajectory.”

Lu’ Shana Cheddesingh, Technical Coordinator under whose portfolio the Innovation Grant Fund falls explains “For this the fourth cohort of the IGF, we will be utilising the funding received from the European Union (EU) and so strong focus of the incoming cohort will be placed on two main areas – Women-led and/owned businesses, and Climate Mitigation projects. We will continue to fund projects from Jamaica’s productive sectors”. Continuing Ms. Cheddesingh stressed that, “Application process is via our website at www.thinkbigee.com.“

The DBJ is encouraging medium-sized Jamaican companies with innovative products and or services that are new and revolutionary to apply.

BIGEE – Boosting Innovation Growth & Entrepreneurship Ecosystem – is the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) five-year project valued at US$25 million and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is the Executing Agency. The Agreement was executed between the GOJ and the IDB late 2019; however, there were unforeseen delays in the launch due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The objective of BIGEE is to promote sustainable and robust growth among start-ups and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Jamaica. In 2021 based on the performance of the programme, the European Union (EU) awarded a non-reimbursable grant of US$8.2 million to support the initiative.

The DBJ, a wholly owned institution of the GOJ has assumed a catalytic role for initiatives that have significantly impacted MSME development over the years; this makes the institution a good fit to successfully implement the GOJ’s and IDB’s vision for the programme.

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Businessuite News24

Local Dairy Industry’s Current Resurgence Is An Opportune Time For Farmers To Invest….Deslandes.

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The local dairy industry’s current resurgence is an opportune time for farmers to invest in the sector, according to Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB) Chairman, Dr. Derrick Deslandes.

Speaking during the recent launch of a communal milking parlour in Hillside, St. Thomas, Dr. Deslandes noted numerous industry developments occurring locally.

“We’re seeing big producers coming on board in Tru Juice. We’re seeing Serge Island Dairies pumping a lot of effort and energy and money into revitalising. We’re also seeing shifts in the landscape,” he said.

Dr. Deslandes pointed out that while land is “very important and critical” in agriculture, there are existing technologies or new production methods and systems that allow farmers to operate on smaller plots of land and still be able to produce high volumes of milk.

He noted that one of the avenues for providing assistance to farmers is the establishment of a centre at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining’s Bodles Research Station in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, “where we acquire all the tools and materials that the farmers need so we can lease or offer short-term rentals at a cost”.

“We’ll work with you; we will provide the hand-holding. If you don’t have land, don’t worry about it; once you can find source feed, we will assist you in providing the infrastructure to help you. The number of cows in milking is declining, but the productivity has gone up. So we have identified strategies to actually provide animals to farmers,” the Chairman said.

He further pointed out that the target for the sector to meet the local dairy consumption demand is 50 million litres of milk.

Regarding the new milking parlour in St. Thomas, Dr. Deslandes said it is the first of many, adding that the pace will be picked up to establish others across the island, as the facility is an important aspect of the sector’s overhaul.

The parlour provides a clean, sanitary space where animals can be milked by machines, and enables proper storage for the collection of milk.

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Businessuite News24

Trade and Investment Most Sustainable Avenue for Growth…Holness

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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says Jamaica and the wider region see trade and investment as the most sustainable avenue for the region’s growth and development.

Speaking in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where the inaugural Saudi Arabia-CARICOM Summit is being held, Mr. Holness said that investment is a strategic way of increasing wealth without accumulating significant debt.

He noted that the region has put strong measures in place to safeguard investments.

“If we are to focus on investment as the strategic direction for development, our investors can rest assured that the entire region has made commitments for strengthening and deepening our institutional frameworks to protect investments,” he noted.

“We have very strong institutions, certainly, in terms of our legal and justice systems, to support and protect contracts. We have very strong regulations for our financial sector and our financial markets. So, in terms of an investment framework, the region, I think, is significantly attractive in that way,” he added.

Mr. Holness noted that the region welcomes the strengthening and deepening of the relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“As we go forward… investment and trade should be the key strategic direction. The region has great potential for the exploitation of renewable energy… and, therefore, Jamaica, in particular, would be willing to explore investments in this regard,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted that the region is a net supplier of talent to markets in proximity in North America and Europe, noting that “we can manage significant investments in terms of human resources”.

“The Caribbean, though we are Small Island Developing States (SIDS) we have tremendous opportunities for significant investments. Where we are located, we have great logistics opportunities, shipping… and we would be very interested in hearing the investment potentials that exist for that,” Mr. Holness said.

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Agriculture

Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) Opens Renovated Agro-Processing Incubator

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The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) has opened a renovated agro-processing incubator as it looks to boost production and export among micro and small agro-processors.

The project was funded by the European Union (EU), managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and implemented by the JBDC.

Speaking during Monday’s (November 13) grand opening at the JBDC’s Incubator Resource Centre in Kingston, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, said it is a significant milestone in Jamaica’s path towards entrepreneurial excellence.

“The initiative is a vital step in our journey at the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, aligning perfectly with our strategic goal to develop and strengthen industry value chains for export,” he said.

The Minister shared that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) contribute significantly to Jamaica’s gross domestic product, approximately 44 per cent, noting that integrating them into a robust export value chain is crucial to boosting their growth potential and enhancing the country’s economic prosperity and global market presence.

JBDC Incubator and Resource Centre Manager for Technical Services, Colin Porter, detailed that six critical pieces of equipment were acquired for filling, packaging and production of a variety of products, including beverages, sauces, condiments, dry mixes, purées and pastries.

“We moved from approximately 600 sq. ft. to a total of 1,000 sq. ft. because we were constrained just by the physical limitations of the space itself. However, this expansion will now allow us to more efficiently allow our clients to carry out product development activities as well as production activities,” he said.

Mr. Porter shared that the incubator is staffed with an agro-industry process supervisor, food technologist, food development specialist and incubator assistant, who work with clients to transform their ideas or samples into world-class products.

He said the JBDC is working towards achieving Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 for the incubator, “which will mean that we will be truly ready to export throughout the world””.

Meanwhile, Advisor to the CDB Vice-President of Operations, Dr. Darran Newman, pointed out that agriculture plays a critical role in the fabric of Caribbean societies.

“It serves, not only as a source of sustenance but also a cornerstone of our economy, providing income for millions. This agro-processing incubator is definitely a symbol of our commitment to nurturing and cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship and excellence within this agro-processing domain,” Dr. Newman said.

She further noted that through collaboration, mentorship and access to state-of-the-art facilities, Jamaica’s pool of agricultural entrepreneurs is poised to grow.

“This is a testament to our unwavering belief in the potential of agriculture to be a driving force for progress and prosperity,” Dr. Newman stated.

The JBDC is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, mandated to provide business development services to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

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