J. Wray & Nephew (JWN) Limited has budgeted $100 million to assist its employees who lost their jobs with the closure of its sugar cane operations at Holland and Casa Marantha estates in St Elizabeth.
Chairman of JWN and the JWN Foundation, Clement 'Jimmy' Lawrence, yesterday announced that the company will go beyond what is legally required and undertake a number of support initiatives for its former employees during the transition.
He said the support will include multi-year educational grants to the children of its affected staff, intended to ensure that they complete secondary-level education.
To this end, the company has allocated $35 million for students enrolled in secondary institutions, and this will be managed by the JWN Foundation.
He said the foundation will also increase the number of grants available to the entire St Elizabeth community for studies at the secondary and tertiary levels.
According to Lawrence, the rest of the money, $65 million, will be used to support various measures aimed at helping the affected staff and community to contend with the harsh economic conditions that will result from the redundancy exercise announced last Wednesday.
The measures will include transitioning as many persons as possible into jobs; improving access to, and the quality of, early childhood education for children of the Holland community by renovating the Middlesex Infant School, which is the main early childhood institution for the affected communities, and working with the Government to identify suitable crops to replace sugar cane.
"Our investment in early childhood will provide the children with the best possible educational start. The school will also be used to facilitate adult remedial learning and continuous education," said Lawrence.
"We have chosen to direct the lion's share of our intervention to education because we see it as the best vehicle to effect true transformation in these communities, where formal education often stops at grade 9," added Lawrence.
He said the 2,400 acres of lands at Holland Estate, which are leased by JWN, will be returned to the Government and several pieces of equipment and infrastructure acquired by the company will be donated.
The water pumps currently in use at that site are among the items being donated to the Government of Jamaica.
These pumps, which are valued at approximately $100 million, are used not only to drain the lands for cultivation but also to protect the community, including the popular tourist attraction Holland Bamboo, from flooding.
According to Lawrence, as the first registered company in Jamaica, it is here to stay, and the executive team will act to ensure its sustainability and its continued positive contribution to the Jamaican economy.