The St James Municipal Corporation has doubled its support to small entrepreneurs in the parish under the Local Economic Development (LED) Program. Chief Executive Officer at the Corporation, Gerald Lee, said that $10 million is being spent this fiscal year to assist some 400 persons in push-starting business operations. Approximately $5 million was allocated under the program during the last fiscal year, which benefited 200 entrepreneurs.
Recently, Lee spoke at the 2019 LED program launch and training session for grantees at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre. He noted that the LED program, which is an initiative under local government reform, seeks to engage persons in economic activity that can allow them to improve their livelihood and take care of their families, and ultimately empower communities. Lee said that persons would be provided with grants of up to $50,000, each, to develop a small business and they will be monitored to ensure that the ventures are sustained.
“We have a local economic development officer, who monitors the program and ensures that it is workable and that the persons who are making applications for these grants really qualify. If they are going to go into chicken rearing, we ensure that they provide the infrastructure and then we provide them with the working capital to start the business,” he said.
Mayor of Montego Bay and Chairman of the St. James Municipal Corporation, Councilor Homer Davis, encouraged the beneficiaries to commit to growing their businesses through profit retention. “If we can empower our people, then you will realize your dreams of taking care of yourself and taking care of your children. This initiative is one for you because we want to see an improvement in your living standard. So, I want you to grab it with both hands,” he said. During the session, the beneficiaries were educated on how to plan for business success, budgeting, profitability, and the benefits of developing business partnerships.
The LED program, being implemented by the local government and community development ministry, aims to establish economic activities/enterprises in communities across Jamaica; support small and micro enterprises enabling them to attain financial viability and/or expand their businesses; and positively impact the gross domestic product (GDP).
Under the program, local authorities are expected, in collaboration with local stakeholders and relevant national external partners, to formulate and execute appropriate strategies and programs that can impact job creation and poverty reduction.