Popcaan commits to development of St Thomas
Dancehall artiste Popcaan yesterday reiterated his commitment to assist in the upliftment of St Thomas, the parish of his birth.
The popular entertainer has been described by Prime Minister Andrew Holness as a "strong, vocal advocate for the upliftment of St Thomas".
He was among key stakeholders who gathered at the site of the old Goodyear factory in the parish to break ground for a new urban centre yesterday.
"Anything weh yuh need to assist yuh wid, with the youths dem, me ready," Popcaan told Holness.
Holness said that when the new urban centre is completed, there will be plenty of jobs in the parish in areas such as business process outsourcing.
The urban centre is being built on the grounds of the factory, which closed its doors in 1997.
The 365,000 square foot property will house: the St Thomas Municipal Corporation; a town hall; conference centre; justice square, which will include a family court and parish court; tax office; Registrar General's Department branch; and a Passport, Citizenship and Immigration Agency (PICA) Office.
Also included in the plan are spaces for financial institutions; a food court; library; medical centre; wellness centre; day care; space for tertiary-level institutions; shopping facilities; purpose-built manufacturing and industrial space for small, medium and large enterprises; museum and recreational park.
"As a Government, we decided that we are not just going to focus on the development of Kingston, but we are going to develop plans for all our major townships in Jamaica. We're going to improve their infrastructure," Holness said at the ground-breaking.
And in his conversation with Popcaan, the prime minister said that the entertainment industry is set to grow in the parish.
He said that many tourists will soon be heading to St Thomas and they will need entertainment. For Popcaan, that is no problem.
"We have nuff upcoming talent in the parish," he said.
In addition to the 'Unruly Boss', St Thomas has produced entertainers such as Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley and Chronic Law.
Holness acknowledged the existence of the parish's talent, but underscored the need to ensure they are trained.
He is also mindful that crime and violence could impact the urban centre project. He again enlisted the support of Popcaan.
"You are a very powerful voice and if you say, 'look, a prosperity we seh, a development we seh', a lot a youth wi just follow you because Popaan seh suh," Holness said.
The artiste, while appearing modest, said: "I rather use my influence to do that."
He also revealed that Canadian rapper Drake, to whose OVO label he is signed, is interested in making investments in Jamaica.
Pleased with what he heard from Popcaan, Holness gave him a firm handshake. He followed it up with a line from one of Popcaan's songs, Firm and Strong.
" Give me the energy me need Jah, you keep me firm and strong," Holness recited.