KINGSTON, Dec.10 (JIS): The Social Development Commission (SDC) has created some 839 jobs for residents at the local level, through the Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP). Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, on December 8, Executive Director at the SDC, Dr. Dwayne Vernon, said the SDC is using its platform of community involvement as the driving force to encourage community businesses for economic development and to create employment.
He said that the LEDSP, an initiative of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, was launched in May 2015 to formalise community businesses, and grow entrepreneurship in communities.
Dr. Vernon noted that of the 839 persons currently employed, 232 are full time, 408 part time, 199 seasonal and others assist, based on the need. “Currently, there are 138 active projects happening in different communities and these Local Economic Initiatives (LEIs) have a capital layout of $530 million,” he pointed out.
He informed that 32 per cent of these community businesses are from the agro-processing industry, adding that there is a heavy use of agricultural produce and raw materials from these produce to make secondary products, such as pastries, sauces, jams, pickles, chocolate and other confectioneries, juices and wines. Another 29 per cent of the community businesses are poultry, and the remaining are manufacturing, art and craft, fashion and community tourism.
Dr. Vernon said if all communities take the Local Government and community-based approach to economic growth, such as the LEI, this will improve employment in the country.
He called on members of the public to embrace the Local Government Reform, which is a tool that will help them to participate in the decision-making and economic growth at the community and parish levels.