Jamaica has begun construction on Portmore Informatics Park, a large office complex aimed at attracting foreign BPO firms.
Located in the coastal city of Portmore, the new park will cost $31 million and offer a total of 157,000 square feet in floor space.
U.S. BPO provider Alorica has reserved space in the facility and is promising to create 4,500 jobs, according to the firm, which announced through a Facebook post that it was looking to hire customer care agents and managers for its Jamaican operations.
The park will be ready for occupation in the next 12 months, said the government in a statement, adding that the Port Authority of Jamaica will operate the facility once construction is complete.
The Jamaican BPO industry currently employs about 22,000 people, with the government expecting the sector to create another 180,000 jobs over the next four years.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who broke ground for the complex, said that his administration was focusing on creating jobs because he believed that employment would reduce the crime rate in the country.
“Employment will make them too busy to commit crime,” the Prime Minister said, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. “This is the fastest way to get our Jamaicans employed. So let’s get going,” he added.
Although the BPO industry is one of the biggest sources of employment in the country, some local entrepreneurs and labor union leaders often criticize the sector, claiming that wages and working conditions at call centers are poor.