Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on Wednesday (June 26), broke ground to start construction of the new Morant Bay Urban Centre in Springfield, St. Thomas.
The urban centre is being built on the grounds of the former Good Year Factory, which closed its doors in 1997.
The 365,000 square feet property will house the St. Thomas Municipal Corporation; a town hall; conference centre; justice square, which will include a family court and parish court; tax office; Registrar General’s Department (RGD); and the Passport, Citizenship & Immigration Agency (PICA).
Also included in the plan are spaces for financial institutions; food court; library; medical centre; wellness centre; day care; space for tertiary-level institutions; shopping facilities; purpose-built manufacturing and industrial space for small, medium and large enterprises; museum; recreational park; and a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) facility.
The development, being implemented by the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ), is expected to provide approximately 3,000 jobs for the people of St. Thomas.
Prime Minister Holness said the project forms part of a major plan to redevelop towns in Jamaica.
“As a Government, we decided that we are not just going to focus on the development of Kingston, but we are going to develop plans for all our major townships in Jamaica. We’re going to improve their infrastructure,” Mr. Holness said.
The Prime Minister noted that the project serves as an important signal to the people of St. Thomas and Jamaica in general that “the Government is serious about their development.”
In his remarks at the groundbreaking, Mayor of Morant Bay, Councillor Michael Hue, called on the citizens of the parish to acquire the necessary qualifications to take advantage of the job opportunities that will become available.
“This development has the potential to transform St. Thomas into the new economic zone. To do this, we must prepare ourselves to grasp the opportunities. Thousands of jobs are expected to be available through the BPO sector …and we must start to prepare ourselves.
“We must get…proper training and provide certificates of competence that will make us first in line to grasp these opportunities,” Mayor Hue added.