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Jamaica 2019 | MONTEGO BAY | INTERVIEW

The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce's mission is providing advocacy and promoting the key features of the Jamaican and local economy.

Winston Lawson
BIOGRAPHY
Winston Lawson is Assistant General Manager within the corporate banking division of National Commercial Bank, responsible for the Western Region of Jamaica. His prior postings with the bank include branch leadership and unit head for the middle market unit and the business underwriting unit. Lawson currently serves as President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce. Previously, he was President of the Rotary Club of Mandeville, a former Board Director of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, and former Vice Chairman of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, among other positions.

What are the main benefits of being a member of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce?

We lead around 200 registered members, galvanizing around similar objectives and needs to provide advocacy on their behalf in ensuring that the climate for business is buoyant and allows for all the necessary requisites for a successful business operation. Thus, we ensure that the infrastructure is there and the policies are in place to allow for job creation, growth, economic activity, and vibrancy. We are pretty much the center of it all, advocating the interests of the business community. As well, we facilitate lobbying for issues that may affect members generally or individually.

How would you describe the main outcomes of your events, workshops, and seminars?

It is important that we speak not only frequently but with some amount of strength in voice and presence to highlight the concerns and regularly keep them within the public domain so that they receive the necessary attention. It is again a part of advocacy, which is what we are about. Advocacy also places an obligation on us to not only deal with issues in general for the business community, but also to promote our local industry to encourage more investment from the private and public sectors to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place. In fact, we have awards coming up at the convention center in the near future and the chamber was instrumental in lobbying to make sure the center was built. We've lobbied for the popular Montego Bay bypass, also known as the Perimeter Road. It is a three-year project, the contract has been signed, and we expect that some work will commence in 2019. Moreover, we have pushed for several other initiatives, such as promoting our Hip Strip tourist product. We have witnessed encouraging interest and it is attracting additional private-sector investments. Plus, a major state-of-the-art-park is being built just outside of the Hip Strip, which will add significant value to Montego Bay.

What can be done to attract more investment to Montego Bay?

We just need to look at our two strongest industries, tourism and BPO, analyze how to link other industries with them, and strategize how we can make those industries stronger. We will deal with it through Invest MoBay, which for instance links the tourism and manufacturing industries. Additionally, the agriculture, fishing, food, and entertainment sectors can grow stronger on the back of the tourism sector. With that in mind, we have an obligation as a chamber to ensure that we can promote the key features of the Jamaican and our local economy to help build it.

How do you expect the Jamaican Logistics Hub Initiative to change the dynamic of the economy in the medium and long term?

Montego Bay is a resort town and it is a town that I regard as the home of hospitality. The Jamaican Logistics Hub Initiative will greatly help the country in general and especially Montego Bay to build other industries, such as manufacturing. Moving forward, Montego Bay will act as a resort town that will facilitate the growth of other industries.

What are your main priorities for 2019?

There are three; the first one is related to what we call member centricity, maintaining the primacy of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce as a membership organization; the second is about modernizing the organization and its processes; and the third one is the issue of advocacy. So, under those three umbrellas, we have formed a 10-point plan. For the first goal, we have designed a comprehensive member-to-member discount program for the direct benefit of our individual and business members. One of the modernization issues has to do with upgrading our website. In that sense, we want to be more like TBY in terms of its global reach and modern way of doing business.