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Jamaica 50 - Homecoming Business Launch

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Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, says the mission of the Jamaica 50 celebrations next year is to deepen the spirit of patriotism and nationalism among Jamaicans at home and abroad.

This, she said, will be done through a series of planned activities and projects, which will rekindle a sense of pride in the nation’s independence and create a lasting legacy. The Minister was speaking today (October 13), at the Grand Jamaica Homecoming Business launch, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.

The Grand Jamaica Homecoming is a Canadian ‘movement’ that encourages and inspires Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica living in the Diaspora to come home and make a valuable contribution in whatever way they can. As a major initiative, the organisation has developed the Grand Jamaica Homecoming 2012 project to coincide with the nation’s 50th year of independence celebrations.

Pledging her support to the initiative, Minister Grange said the Grand Jamaica Homecoming is one of the most significant projects being undertaken under the banner of the Jamaica 50 celebrations. She noted that Jamaica and Jamaicans stood to gain tremendously from the project and efforts of members of the Diaspora. “We also want our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to enjoy sweet returns as they put their hands and heart together for the land we all love so dearly,” she remarked. “We expect too that this initiative will be one that will benefit us long after we would have celebrated Jamaica 50,” she added.

Ms. Grange said the outcomes intended through the activities of Grand Jamaica Homecoming were “mouth-watering to contemplate - Jamaicans in the Diaspora connecting with our economy in real and mutually beneficial ways; connecting with our culture and celebrating our rich heritage and in all this, strengthening the Jamaica Brand.”

The Minister said the government also anticipates the Legacy Fund, which is also a project under the Grand Jamaica Homecoming initiative, which will support programmes and organisations working in the field of education. Turning to the grand media launch of the Jamaica 50 activities, scheduled for next week Thursday (October 20), at Jamaica House, Miss Grange said the country would enjoy a year-long celebration with activities taking place every month until December 2012, under the theme: ‘Jamaica 50: Feel the Heart and Soul of a Nation’.

Meanwhile, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, argued that Jamaica’s 50th anniversary celebrations and the Homecoming initiative will help to put Jamaica further on display for the world to see the nation’s achievements and successes. “We really do have a lot to offer. I have observed that throughout these 50 years that we will celebrate next year, we have done enough to expose our potential. The brand is istrong, there’s no question about that. The real question now is, how do we tap into that potential?” he asked.

Dr. Tufton said there are numerous business and investment opportunities available, both at home and abroad through which Jamaica and Jamaicans can garner great benefit. “What I’d like to do in terms of my own work going into 2012, is to accept, realise and to speak to the fact that as a country, after 50 years, we have in fact discovered our potential, and to try working with my colleagues to encourage our stakeholder partners toward the exploitation of that potential,” he said.

However, he said that more needs to be done to reduce the levels of bureaucracy, which continue to cripple, to some extent, the local business and investment climate. “I would like to see in the next 50 years, certainly within the next five, this country looks at the investment climate, looks at the process of facilitating investments, and if we have to abolish some of the laws to facilitate a speedier transaction time,” he explained. President, Jamaica Homecoming Canada Inc., Donette Chin-Loy, said the group is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organisation with a vision to create a powerful movement for the Jamaican Diaspora and friends of Jamaica that will reconnect them to the island.

She informed that in celebration of Jamaica’s 50th year of independence and as a way of engaging the Jamaican Diaspora, members of the Grand Jamaica Homecoming group plan to create a Canadian national awakening and movement that will inspire Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica to “come home” to the island for an authentic Jamaican experience.

“By virtue of technology we will also inspire Jamaicans in the greater Diaspora round the world. We will be a catalyst for unlimited economic and cultural opportunities or Jamaica, with a year-long programme beginning January 2012 to December 2012,” he pointed out.

The Grand Jamaica Homecoming movement will culminate in the development of a Legacy Fund focused on giving support to initiatives and organisations working in he area of education. An Advisory Council of prominent business leaders will assist anada’s Homecoming team in Legacy Fund decisions.

The organisation will celebrate Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence under the patronage of Jamaican Canadian philanthropists and business titans, Michael Lee Chin and Raymond Chang, while Chairman, GraceKennedy Ltd., Douglas Orane, has been appointed Honorary Patron of its Advisory Council.

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