ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
May 10, 2017 | Lorrimer Burford
United Friends of Highgate
Nonprofit serving Jamaica
The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for 70% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. However, in the past, Highgate’s economy was heavily dependent on agriculture (primarily banana, sugar cane and coconut) and manufacturing (chocolate factory). But this was in the distant past, today none of these industries are significant contributors to a very small economy. Further, another negative impact on the town’s economy came when the Westmoreland Bridge, which historically provided easy access to the town, was closed.
Westmoreland Bridge: Over the years, since the decline in agriculture and the closing of the chocolate factory and bridge, there has been negligible progress in the community’s economic development status. Probably the most significant development is the government’s contribution in 2016 when they rebuilt the Westmoreland Bridge. This bridge literally joined Highgate to a number of major economic areas such as Annotto Bay and Portland and which was a key link to the nation’s capital; Kingston. The reopening of the bridge injected some life into the town and the communities between Highgate and the bridge.
Therefore, this vital roadway now makes it possible for Highgaters to travel outside the community and for others to come into the community; a giant step towards economic development as far as this community is concerned. Similar to any successful community Highgate must have more money pouring in than the amount going out. The bridge therefore is this pathway to support the process.
Financial Support: Our first accomplishment in the area of economic development is the financial support we provided to students attending the School of Beauty where students receive on the job training. These youth graduate with the tools to start their own business or become employed in this field.
The Future: Our small accomplishment over the past ten years is by strategic design as we did not have the resources or knowledge to determine feasible solutions to Highgate’s economic development problems. Our focus over the next ten years will primarily be in the economic development sector. Highgate’s economy will be revitalized through a plan to produce goods and services to sell at a profit.
The community is rich in assets such as human resources, local culture, educational institutions and agriculture in the nature of small farms. This is sufficient to make its economy a vibrant and most satisfying one.