The Caribbean Local Economic Development Project (CARILED) has been active in Belize since last year and has produced some tangible work including the renovations to BTL Park. But that is only part of its mandate, as the project also aims to build capacity among elected officials to promote economic development. On Tuesday the mayors of Belize’s 2 cities and 7 towns met with counterparts from Canada and Jamaica in a one-day symposium focusing on the role of elected officials in facilitating and promoting local economic development. Minister responsible for Local Government, Senator Godwin Hulse, opened the session with reporters and spoke of his Ministry’s plans to take the initiative forward after the CARILED funds are spent.
Hon. Godwin Hulse- Minister of Local Government
“At the end of the day , elected officials should walk away from her better at least informed to be able to undertake this program. The Ministry of Local Government for which I am responsible, will carry it on after the CARILED finest portion comes to an end and, hoping that we can extend it to another area. I am kind of throwing that out to Mrs. Alix the last time she was here, and I was told I have to talk to my colleague in Jamaica, Minister Ascott, which I certainly will do to try to put it on another area because we got off to a little rocky start. So, we lost some ground which we have to make up and so, we’ll try to see if we can extend it, but I do guarantee you that is not going to die because the Government will take up the initiative when the program just turn in. In fact, we have already seated the Director in the Ministry, we’ve hired the leader, and of course, they will be paid as we said but before for the Program to continue”.
Councilor for Ward 37, Scarborough Centre, on the Toronto City Council, Michael Thompson, was keynote speaker. Mr Thompson chairs his council’s economic development committee and spoke of the importance of balancing an increase in revenue through new business and management of taxation of existing businesses and city residents. With nearly one year gone since the implementation of the CARILED project, we asked Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley to expound on some of the benefits of the program.
Darrell Bradley – Mayor of Belize City
“Well, the project has several components: one of it is direct funding of YOURS projects in the country of Belize. The other is SOFT assistance…and when we talk about SOFT assistance we’re talking about technical assistance, branding and the development of various project documents, of business plan, assistance in terms of various operations and manuals to assist the various municipalities to run and develop certain community spaces. Belize City was the first in the six Caribbean countries that CARILED is operated to put in place its project and to receive CARILED funding and we’ve gotten funding for the kiosks at BTL park. So, we there actually, it is running out. Of course, when you know that these projects are developed, it was launched last year… and we’re seeing demonstration projects on the ground already! The four projects going on in the country of Belize…the one in Belize City is well underway. You see the foundation for the kiosk already being developed at BTL park and at the end of that project, we are going to have 23 kiosks and 23 small businesses that will be supported as a result of CARILED’s intervention in that project”.
There are also plans for work in Belmopan, San Ignacio and the Belize River Valley. The Council has also partnered with BELTRAIDE’s Small Business Development Center operating out of the University of Belize to train potential business owners at the BTL Park.
Mayor Darrell Bradley
“…where also Mayor August in San Ignacio; they have already put in their proposal and there will be assistance given and we’re talking about cash grant assistance given in terms of the Welcome Center that was developed through the STP project; the CARILED will fund certain initiatives to help them to enhance that as a municipality. We also going to have projects in the Belize River Valley are, but of course, in order to access the funding, you have to put your project document together and you are talking about enhancing the agricultural base of that area, and Belmopan is also talking about doing activities to enhance youth development. They want their funding to assist with the enhancement of the facility to be able to deliver training for the young people to get into enterpreneural skills. So, the project may have been delayed, but we’re seeing fruits”.
The Mayor noted that the 23 new vendors and 7 original vendors at BTL Park have formed a Vendors’ Association to steer the project forward.