In an effort to serve clients and advance the expansion of the Special Economic Zone Regime, the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) yesterday opened its first Business Acceleration Centre. The centre was established at Kingston Wharves’ Kingport Warehouse Complex (KWC) location in Newport West.
Kingston Wharves’ (KWL) CEO Mark Williams, welcomed the establishment of the first centre, citing KWL’s pioneering role in Jamaica’s push to become a leading logistics hub. “We have been on this path for many many years when logistics and things associated with logistics was just a mere conversation.”
He underscored that long before logistics became the watchword in Jamaica, Kingston Wharves was building out its logistics infrastructure, with its eye on becoming a leading logistics centre. “We currently have several port centric logistics projects which are being executed to the tune of US$70 million. And that is just for the next 12 to 18 months,” he disclosed.
“Approximately five years ago, we executed over US$50 million in capital projects, because we believe that Jamaica is a place to do business. And as a Jamaican business, we are fully invested in the dreams of Jamaica, to make the country become the place to live, work, raise families and do business,” the CEO stated.
Mr. Williams added that with a forward thinking vision and much determination, a developing country with few resources can become a leading logistics hub. Public Private partnerships are critical components in the creation of an integrated ecosystem that allows logistics to thrive.
Citing the Business Acceleration Unit as one key step in that shared goal, Mr. Williams declared, “It is really a privilege for Kingston Wharves to partner with the JSEZA on the establishment of the Business Acceleration Unit for the Special Economic Zone Authority. I trust you will use the facility well to expand your offering in around the Newport West area and within the port community for the betterment of Jamaica,” he stated.
Interim CEO of the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority Kelli-Dawn Hamilton echoed that the four primary goals as an authority were to grow investments in the country, to grow exports, to create an enabling business environment and to train Jamaicans. “If we don’t have entities coming into the Special Economic Zone, we will never realise the growth that we are expected to facilitate and encourage,” she observed.
Expressing pleasure at the establishment of the Business Acceleration Centre, Ms. Hamilton noted that BACs had been a discussion since 2016 when the SEZ legislation was enacted.
The JSEZA Interim CEO said the BAC would allow that entity to be on the ground in the port community to help partners grow their businesses. “Through the BAC we are going to be that point of contact between KWL and all the government services, and a point of contact between the users within the SEZ and the government of Jamaica to get approval, licences and to expedite other matters,” Ms. Hamilton stated.
Commending Kingston Wharves for the partnership, she said, “Thank you for seeing the vision, and thank you for bringing us close to our stakeholders through this location in the port.”
In his remarks, Minister of Industry, Investment & Commerce Senator Aubyn Hill made reference to his attendance of the Summit of the Americas, noting that the big theme was nearshoring and “friend-shoring”.
He observed that Jamaica’s North American partners were keen to make sure that nearshoring became a reality in North America Latin America and the Caribbean, adding that with Jamaica at the centre of that nearshoring focus, Kingston Wharves was highly suited because of its central location and ongoing investments.
The Minister lauded KWL on its US$70 million investments, “Kingston Wharves is training, Kingston Wharves is investing, Kingston Wharves is in the export business. You can’t want anything better than that.”
The Role of the Business Acceleration Centre
The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority oversees and operates a Business Acceleration Centre for the coordination of its services in order to improve the simplicity, efficiency of client related services. The BAC provides intervention in acquiring the necessary permits and authorizations under the act, rules, and any applicable law with the goal of facilitating stakeholders on an expedited basis.
There are two arms under the BAC, firstly there is the Business One-Stop Shop (BOSS) and secondly, there are the Aftercare Services. Through this establishment, the Authority will be able to provide support services from both arms of the BAC to better facilitate and increase engagement with our customers.
With the establishment of a physical BAC, customers will have access to quick and effective support services, enabling them to carry out their specific activities with the utmost precision and effectiveness. The additional services made accessible to customers through this project will help them better comprehend the logistics and export opportunities available for their respective businesses.
List of intended services to be provided at BAC KWL location:
- To provide intermediary services for expediting the establishment, Development, operation, maintenance, promotion, administration and regularization of special economic zones.
- To strengthen stakeholder relationship through on-premises interaction.
Providing expedited services.