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Kingston, Jamaica; August 19, 2015: Former Chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) Littleton 'Tanny' Shirley has been announced as the first investor in the Shovel-Ready Project initiative — a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, and the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce. The announcement was made yesterday at the New Kingston offices of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment.
Shirley, who has recently allocated a 29-acre beach front property in Mammee Bay, St Ann, formally handed over a cheque for US$1000.00 to the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) towards the Shovel-Ready programme.
This donation will go towards the initiative’s marketing fund which further increases the efficiency of the programme. Former Director of Tourism, John Lynch, who now heads the shovel-ready initiative, explained that with this funding, they have also been able to set the target of engaging 10-15 new investors by January 2016.
“This initiative is a great one it gives comfort not only to the seller but to the potential investor. Coming to Jamaica there are timelines in which approval can be given. This will be a welcomed negotiating tool for the potential investors who are looking for lands to develop in Jamaica,” said Shirley.
He is hopeful that through his partnership with the Shovel-Ready initiative that the development of his property will quickly get underway and positively impact Jamaica’s economy and the country’s tourism industry. “The demand for green acreage now is high in Jamaica. Prior investors were looking for existing hotels but there are not many around now because most of them have been taken up. The tourism sector is doing a fantastic job by bringing in more visitors to Jamaica and therefore a demand for rooms is constantly increasing.” he continued.
Making the initial announcement during his contribution to the 2014/15 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, explained that the project is done jointly with the TEF, JAMPRO, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and Commissioner of Lands to pre-package a number of investment offerings.
The initiative also aims to directly assist investors by: obtaining tacit development approvals, conducting carrying capacity studies, assessing appropriate land utilization and installing preliminary infrastructure. By doing this, the process of investing in Jamaica’s tourism industry will now be streamlined and expedited.
“If an investor came and bought a piece of land, it would take sometimes up to two years before they could break ground now with this shovel-ready project it’s possible for an investor to break ground in six months,” Lynch explained.
Earlier this year, a list containing four tourism-related sites was presented to Cabinet, which considered whether approval will be given for a set of shovel-ready projects to move forward. When asked about the status of this, Lynch shared that much is being done to get those projects underway.
“We started the growth agenda committee and the first projects that were presented to be made shovel-ready, were four properties for the Urban Development Corporation (UDC). Since then there have been some commitments made on three of the four. So right now there is only one UDC property,” stated Lynch.
“We later expanded to allow private-sector companies to come in and we have about 12 or 14 properties in various forms that we are aiming to get ‘shovel-ready’. TEF is providing the funding to do a lot of the studies and make the place shovel ready. When the property is sold to a developer, TEF gets back their money with a small interest,” he continued.
Once these investors have been confirmed, assistance will be provided with land acquisition, concept design, planning and approvals, environmental permits, and building approvals.