Hundreds of investors turned out at an Investment Forum on September 22, 2011 at the downtown Kingston based Jamaica Conference Centre as leaders in business, civic and political sectors took a critical look at investment opportunities emerging in the downtown Kingston area. The event which was held under the theme Redevelopment of Downtown Kingston: Investment Challenges and Opportunities was hosted by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in collaboration with Scotia Investments Jamaica Limited (SIJL).
Speaking at the event, the Honourable Orette Bruce Golding, Prime Minister of Jamaica said "Downtown Kingston remains the crossroads of Jamaica and its redevelopment needs to be made top priority by turning speculation into commitment.. "To achieve this we need a creative and aggressive investment synergy and I hope the discussions will help to create in your minds the feeling I have that this is the new exciting frontier for investment and development" the Prime Minister said.
Also speaking at the event, the Honourable Audley Shaw, Minister of Finance said "We can't just give lip service to the private sector being the main engine of growth for downtown Kingston, we must all work with the UDC and take responsibility for making downtown Kingston the dream capital of the world".
Continuing, he underscored the growing confidence of investors in the economy as a result of the stable macro-economic environment. This he noted is reflected in; low and declining interest rates, low inflation, a stable dollar and sizeable net international reserves, all complemented by the renewal of the Tax Incentive Programme in downtown Kingston up to 2015 and the introduction of a junior stock exchange headquartered also in the downtown area. "We realized we need a stable macroeconomic environment to encourage private sector investment and despite the challenges, we have managed to keep the economy stable", he added.
The investment forum on downtown Kingston, the brainchild of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) was designed to bring to the fore tangible opportunities that now exist arising out of the Corporation's development planning process. The forum brought together the opportunities with investors and facilitators under one roof with the intention of "stimulation thought and action".
For its part, the UDC through its General Manager, Ms. Joy Douglas, outlined a list of development initiatives scheduled for implementation over the next 24 months, to include:
- The refurbishment of the UDC developed structures along the waterfront
- Development of a hotel and apartment complex to the east on the old Myrtle Bank property
- The construction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building on the site of the current Police Area 4 headquarters
- The construction of a state-of-the art police facility along the west end
- The construction of a major operational base for one of the country's our leading security conglomerates
- Construction of a multi-level parking facility along Orange Street
- The development of low income housing solutions under a pilot programme to test desirability and sustainability of the model proposed
- The continued build out and reordering of the market district and
- Commencement of the development of UDC's proposed new headquarters building at the old Machado complex
The Urban Development Corporation is the nation's leading urban and rural planning agency and was established by an Act of Parliament in 1968. The mandate of the Corporation is to ensure that planned and orderly development takes place where and when it is needed within the context of national priorities.