The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce
After some seven decades of an illustrious existence, the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry is now poised for an even more productive and exciting future.
In keeping with our motto: Together We Build, the Chamber provides leadership by bringing together over two hundred businesses and individuals to create a positive business environment that will shape the economic future and well-being of Montego Bay and its environs.
With an ever evolving socio-economic environment, the Chamber faces may challenges which from time to time have caused it to not just be a body that seemingly represents “big business interests”, but one that seeks to represent the interests and concerns of the wider society, including the small business sector.
In this vein, in recent times the Chamber has had to be in the forefront of lobbying for a wide variety of issues to be addressed, including improving infrastructure, more efficient crime fighting strategies and programmes, social intervention projects, job creation initiatives, tourism enhancement and development, as well as “nitty gritty” matters such as traffic management, garbage collection and beautification. Not to mention the need for a Development Plan for this burgeoning metropolis.
Over the years, the Chamber’s leadership has had to take on an aggressive stance as it seeks to provide the western city with meaning and results-oriented representation.
Montego Bay is a complex city. It is a commercial centre, the tourism capital of Jamaica, Western Jamaica’s regional nexus and the most fast growing area economically in the country outside of Kingston and the corporate area.
Against this background, the Chamber has to remain not just an agent of change and development but must be in the forefront of ensuring that there is equal opportunity for the business community of St, James.
The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry proudly exemplifies visionary, pragmatic and conscientious leadership.
THE CHAMBER THROUGH THE YEARS…….
By 1932, the town of Montego Bay had a vibrant citizens association. They were people of vision and they turned the association around to form an organ of the business sector which they named ‘The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce”. Walter Fletcher, CBE. JP. Was the founder of the organization, and served as its president and secretary for twenty-seven years.
Early developments in the tourism sector saw the first group of hotels opening its doors to vacationing tourists. The Casa Blanca Hotel was created by Mabelle Ewen in 1924 which offered modest accommodation. The hotel was lit by kerosene lamps, but it served its purpose by providing rooms for the increasing number of visitors who flocked the island. These would arrive by the banana boats and would stay over for the winter months. In short order, more of the same type of hotels entered the trade in neighbouring areas. Some of these were the Chatham, Coral Cliff, Beach View and Sunset Lodge, thus the start of the tourist trade.
Since the inception of the chamber it has moved to some 8 locations: The Town Hall, upstairsBarclays Bank-now NCB, Sam Sharpe Square, The Cage, a trailer at City Centre, Life of Jamaica-King Street, Van Haze Building-East Street, Mutual Life Building-Market Street,
Moreland Building and its current location at 4-7 Overton Plaza. During the time the Chamber was housed in the trailer at City Centre there was no space for storage and their documents were sent to Gunpoint Wharf for safe keeping. Unfortunately, the section of the building that housed the documents was destroyed by rough seas and most of the Chambers documents were destroyed.
In 1981 the Chamber underwent a legal change of name to be known thereafter as the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce & Industry. This, to facilitate a broad base membership in the city, as by this time Montego Bay was conferred with the designation of city status in October 1980.
By this time the ‘807’ Programme was developing rapidly and Montego Bay was now changing from a tourism dominated city to one of diversification in commerce and industry. This somewhat rapid and unexpected change synergized the members of the Chamber and a number of innovative decisions were taken as new blood flowed through the membership. A number of joint projects also came on stream, such as TAP, BACKMACK, and of course, the Greater Montego Bay Development Company, Bay Bingo and Western Expo.
During this period also a number of activities came to fruition. Some of these are:
- Business Seminars to educate local businessmen
- Promotion of the Seabed Authority
- Agitation for the stray animals Act Law
- The provision of litter bins throughout the city and garbage collection
- The agitation for traffic and directional signs
- The removal of all billboards which crowded the Sangster International airport
- The need for updated fire-fighting equipment
- Trade and Promotion Missions abroad
- The promotion of Cruise shipping
- A Clean-up campaign for the city
- Lobby for a convention centre for the west
- Improvements in infrastructure
- Developments of our cruise shipping port
To promote, support and advocate the interest of the business sector, to foster growth and development in industry and commerce primarily in tourism, commerce, manufacturing, information technology and agriculture.
The Chamber provides leadership by bringing together businesses and individuals to create a positive business environment that will shape the economic future and well-being of Montego Bay and it environs.