Ministry announces first investor for shovel-ready project

Businessman Littleton ‘Tanny’ Shirley (right) hands over a cheque to support the marketing programme of the Shovel-Ready Project Initiative to Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Clyde Harrison (second left). The cheque represents the first investment in the initiative which seeks to pre-package investment offerings for investors. It also assists them by obtaining tacit development approvals, conducting carrying capacity studies, assessing appropriate land utilisation and installing preliminary infrastructure. Also sharing in the moment are head of the shovel-ready programme and former Director of Tourism John Lynch (left) and President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation Diane Edwards. The formal presentation took place at the offices of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment on Tuesday.

BUSINESSMAN 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 Wednesday at the New Kingston offices of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment.

Shirley formally handed over a cheque for US$1000.00 to the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) towards the Shovel-Ready Project, under which his 29-acre beachfront property in Mammee Bay, St Ann will be marketed.

Former Director of Tourism John Lynch, who now heads the shovel-ready programme, explained that this funding will go towards the initiative's marketing efforts. It will also assist in increasing the efficiency of the programme and aid in the engagement of 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. In Jamaica there are specific timelines in which approvals can be given. A shovel-ready project is a welcome 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 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, Dr Wykeham McNeill explained that the project is done jointly with the TEF, Jamaica Promotions Corporation, the National Environment and Planning Agency, the Urban Development Corporation and Commissioner of Lands to pre-package a number of investment offerings.

The initiative also seeks to directly assist investors by obtaining tacit development approvals, conducting carrying capacity studies, assessing appropriate land utilisation 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.

In addition to some Government-owned properties that are a part of the initiative, there are also 12-14 privately owned properties that are being prepared to become shovel-ready.

"TEF is providing the funding to do a lot of the studies to make properties shovel-ready. When the property is sold to a developer, TEF gets back their money with a small interest," Lynch continued.

Once investors who have expressed an interest in a property have been confirmed, assistance will also be provided with land acquisition, concept design, planning and approvals, environmental permits, and building approvals.

Published Date: 
Friday, August 21, 2015