SPTC represented at regional workshop in Jamaica
Friday, April 15th, 2016
Local Economic Development Officer (LEDO) of the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) Jorge Aldana, is one of four Belizeans who recently returned from a regional knowledge building workshop organized and sponsored by CARILED in Kingston, Jamaica. The working visit, which ran from March 30th to April 1st, is a result of the island’s integration into the second phase of the CARILED program in the region.
According to Aldana, various countries’ LEDOs, gained a deeper understanding of their role in the local economic development of their particular areas. “It gave us the opportunity to look at the role we play in developing a supportive relationship with the local business sector on the island,” explained Aldana. He elaborated on the importance of taking “an inclusive approach to local economic development as we do strategic planning, especially when developing a strategic plan of action for our island.” San Pedro is the fastest- growing municipality in the entire country, and with development there is an increase in traffic, demands for infrastructure, and goods and services. “All these things play a role in planning and how we address economic development,” said Aldana. The LEDOs also shared their experience and concerns among peers, comparing challenges and accomplishments, as well as techniques in addressing concerns in their hometowns. With Ambergris Caye being the prime tourism destination in the country, Aldana discussed how to increase more ‘heads on bed’ in the tourism sector. “Tourism is our main economic activity, so we have to look at how that will impact our island’s development,” said Aldana. “As it is, San Pedro Town is an unplanned town, and we need to take corrective measures if we want to increase economic activities.”
During the meetings, it was emphasized that a community profile is important in local economic development because it provides the business sector with key indicators which will guide them in implementing their investment in a particular area.
As a result, the SPTC will be drafting out a strategic plan as it relates to economic development for San Pedro Town. Part of the plan will entail the revitalization of the downtown area of the island. According to the island’s LEDO, the Town Board is taking small but significant steps to accomplish that larger goal. “We cannot stop development because it has direct impact on our local economy, and as such, we must make the right changes to take advantage of the economic opportunities,” he said.
As the council prepares to secure technical assistance for the drafting of a community profile and strategic plan, the SPTC is already taking on some initiatives which seek to address vendors on public spaces as well as traffic congestion. The strategic plan aims to benefit all residents of the island, enhancing everyone’s standard of living. The support of the entire community is once again needed in order to successfully accomplish such a plan, and many others to come in the future.
During the event in Jamaica, Aldana was accompanied by Jasmin Swan of the Belize City Council, Kayla Magaña of the Belmopan City Council and Kenny Chan of the San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town Council. Participating countries included Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, St Lucia, Dominica and Belize.
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