DBJ taps PetroCaribe for US$20m more to build BPO space

THE Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is seeking an additional US$20 million from the PetroCaribe Development Fund to finance the construction of more space for the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

The agency will lend up to US$5 million per project — representing a maximum of 70 per cent of total costs — with an interest rate of 4.5 per cent per annum on the reducing balance.

What's more, the state agency also wants to push another US$20 million through its approved financial institutions (AFIs) to finance US-dollar projects in other sectors including tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, animation, logistics and energy.

Just two years ago, the DBJ established a direct loan facility to fund the construction of large facilities capable of generating significant employment and improving Jamaica's reputation as an ICT destination.

Now, those funds have been used up and the demand for additional facilities has grown.

More specifically, the state agency received six applications for US$23.3 million through Jampro. Five were approved for a combined US$18.3 million to create 260,000 square feet of ICT space that would aid in the creation of 7,000 to 10,000 jobs.

The local ICT/BPO industry is valued at US$260 million, which accounts for six per cent of the Caribbean and Latin American market.

Jamaica currently has 34 outsourcing operations employing over 14,000 individuals in the industry.

As the country is poised to double the size of the BPO sector by 2016, the provision of space by this venture is timely, said the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), the national representative body of Jamaica's ICT/BPO industry.

"Space remains one of the main challenges affecting the growth and expansion of the local industry and the ICT/BPO association has called on private investors to step in and assist with the provision of space," said BPIAJ.

Recently, DBJ visited four sites in Portmore where developers are seeking to build facilities with combined space of over 40,000 square feet of additional space and has had discussions with three other developers seeking to build much larger facilities in Portmore, Kingston and Montego Bay, according to Milverton Reynolds, DBJ's managing director.

And just last week, Barnett Technology Park and Keir Construction signed an agreement to break ground on a 50,000-square-foot facility in January. That project, which is scheduled to be completed by next November, is projected to have the potential to attract US$97 million in investment to complete the tech park.

Jamaica Observer
Published Date: 
Wednesday, December 4, 2013