The DSH project will transform Vieux Fort into a modern city full of opportunities, prime minister says.
Saint Lucians can expect increased activity in the south of the island as the government steps up efforts to create employment opportunities.
This week, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said that government is working towards lessening the unemployment rate to no more than 15 percent by 2021. Despite a reduction in the unemployment rate from 24.1 percent in 2015 to 21.6 in 2016, youth unemployment still stands at 43.1 percent. Part of government’s strategy to reduce this rate is to create employment throughout Saint Lucia, including the south of the island.
On May 9, the prime minister, during the 2017 budget presentation, announced that the government has partnered with OJO Labs International to develop an artificial intelligence training and call centre to market and sell the products, services, software and technology of OJO and its clients, including the fastest growing real estate company in the United States.
“By September, OJO will occupy leased, retrofitted premises within the Saint Lucia Freezone to house this facility,” stated the prime minister. “Employees will be recruited and trained starting this month. It is anticipated that 50 jobs in the area of artificial intelligence training will be immediately created with the plan to expand to over 200. This is a first for the Caribbean and we will provide our people with advanced technological skills that are not currently unavailable in the region. This will provide an opportunity for our young people to be exposed to cutting edge technology from a first-world company.”
The prime minister also spoke of the opportunities that will be presented with the Desert Star Holdings project, the Pearl of the Caribbean.
“We know that this is a bold and sweeping project, and that the scale of the project is unprecedented, but at the time, so was the Pigeon Island causeway, the Millennium Highway, the John Compton Dam, the Hess Oil refinery, and the Rodney Bay Marina. We cannot be afraid to embrace development because without it there is no hope for our people. The jobs they need so desperately will not fall from the sky, we must create them. This government will do so, and we will do it in a manner which marries respect for our environment with the need to develop, for the two must go hand in hand.”
The Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service said Phase I of the project the racetrack will be implemented later this year.
“During the construction phase there will be an estimated 500 to 800 persons on site, with a management team of 10 to 20 persons. Once the racecourse is operational, persons will receive training and employment in the areas of horse husbandry, maintenance of facilities, and management of the race course and training of the racehorses. On average in the horse racing industry 3 to 4 jobs are created for every thoroughbred, such jobs being jockeys, trainers, barn managers, grounds keepers, groomers, veterinarians, vet’s assistants and blacksmiths. It is estimated that we will have over 400 horses.”
The prime minister said the project will transform Vieux Fort into a modern, progressive city full of opportunities for its citizens.
“No longer will high rates of joblessness plague Vieux Fort and no longer will the people of the south feel abandoned,” he said. “This project will also make use of under-utilized lands in the south, particularly in Beausejour, and create several ancillary industries and linkages with existing businesses. The opportunities this project presents are endless and our government is grateful to the developer for expressing this level of confidence in our country and in our government to make such a large-scale investment here. We welcome this development, and look forward to the job opportunities it will provide for our young people, particularly those from the south.”