Entrepreneur Weekly has covered the vibrancy of the various industries that exist within the western end of the island, along with their interconnectivity that provides a myriad of entrepreneurial opportunities. We now move toward the centre of the island to the county of Middlesex, zooming in on St. Ann and St. Mary.
Both parishes are known for their involvement in agriculture but have other dominant industries. In a Jamaica Observer article in February 2022, local parliamentarians commended the work being done by the farmers in both parishes. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr said “The ministry is focused on giving our support to make sure that our farmers are successful. We will do all that we can to make sure that this production zone is productive,”
Business in St. Ann
The parish of St. Ann is known for agriculture, bauxite mining and predominantly tourism. According to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), “St. Ann is known as the ‘The Garden Parish’ for its bauxite, agriculture and livestock production and – perhaps most notably – its tourist attractions.” Next to Montego Bay, Ocho Rios has some of Jamaica’s leading tourist attractions. Being a parish largely known for tourism, entrepreneurs can find themselves in various parts of the ecosystem, providing services in gastronomy, gift and craft, agro-processing, tour and destination services, to name a few.
The Jamaica Legacy Project noted “St. Ann is one of three parishes in Jamaica with the largest deposits of bauxite in the island; the other two parishes are Manchester and St. Elizabeth. The parish of St. Ann has the largest concentration of bauxite-aluminium mining and export activities.” Bauxite is also another big industry that has several rungs in its value-chain that can provide entrepreneurs with opportunities to expand and support the sector itself through solving various problems along the chain through products and services.
Business in St. Mary
Agriculture remains the backbone of St. Mary’s economy. According to the Jamaica Legacy Project, “St. Mary is a large producer of bananas, sugar cane, citrus, cocoa and pimento. It is said that virtually every crop thrives here.” St. Mary is home to many farm lands and thus agricultural services are important aspects of the parish’s economy, seeing many local entrepreneurs engaged in businesses of this nature.
Jamaica Global noted “There is great potential in this parish for the extensive development of tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. Tourism is now the fastest growing sector of the economy in the parish, and some inroads have also been made in the industry.” With potential like this, entrepreneurs within this parish can look to expand their businesses to get involved in supporting the push for tourism.
Boscobel, St. Mary is also home to the Ian Fleming International Airport which named after the creator of James Bond (the world’s most fictional spy). The airport welcomed its inaugural flight from Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands in June 2022.
According to the Jamaica Observer, earlier this year, major air carrier American Airline also said that it would, as of November 5, commence twice-weekly international flights between Miami and Ocho Rios through its Embraer-175 regional jet which can seat up to 88 passengers.
Formalisation of Business
For both St. Mary and St. Ann, agriculture is big business. It has been observed that many times entrepreneurs within the agricultural and fisheries sectors have chosen the path of informal business operation, for various reasons. However, Mr. Oral Shaw, Principal Director, Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) Division in the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce commented on the importance of formalisation for persons within the agriculture and fisheries sector. He noted “Formality is very important to national development, there are more benefits to be derived from being in the formal economy than not being in it.”
Formalisation provides the ability to attract greater investment, financial support from lending institutions, and the ability to be mentored by larger companies as well. Mr. Shaw was speaking at a recent closing ceremony for the training component of the “Formalising Operators in the Jamaican Agricultural and Fisheries Sector” Project being funded by the International Labour Organization funded (ILO). Ninety (90) farmers and fisherfolk from across the island participated in business training coordinated by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).
JBDC and Entrepreneurs in Middlesex
Ms, Vejay Williams is a Juniour Business Development Officer at the JBDC Business Centre in St. Ann. She noted “For both parishes, entrepreneurship is very active, meaning entrepreneurs are seeking assistance with getting their business registered and obtaining a business TRN.” Continuing, she said “It has been quite the experience, once entrepreneurs become aware of our office and the services we provide, most will call or even visit for information.” In agreement with the observation of the need for formalisation, Ms. Williams noted “Approximately 90% of entrepreneurs in these areas seek assistance with registering their businesses and this is just the tip of being formalised and adapting to business best practices.”
Entrepreneurs within these parishes can receive business development support from the JBDC and begin to expand their horizon of possibility to provide for their families, parishes, Jamaica and even move further on to exporting.