A guest column by RICARDO MOHAMMED, president of the Sangre Grande Chamber of Commerce
There is a great sense of optimism in the Sangre Grande Chamber of Commerce. The green shoots of recovery can blossom but we must be dynamic and look at every opportunity for growth and development.
Employment is at the heart of our economic, social and community well-being. In the competitive world we live in, we cannot afford to be complacent; we must focus on economic growth, which in turn leads to employment opportunities and improved social and community well-being, which in turn reduces crime.
Each business within this diverse eastern community, small, medium and large, has a role to play in the economic growth of Sangre Grande – to make Sangre Grande the best place in the Trinidad to work, live and visit.
The businessmen of Sangre Grande are the people who demonstrate vision, courage and ambition to drive both business and as a consequence, this region forward.
It’s time to be proactive, we must change our mind set and say “we can” to maximise opportunity and potential.
We can make Sangre Grande the best place to start and grow your business, with the best ecosystem to promote innovation and creativity. We can make Sangre Grande the most desirable location for East Trinidad. We can create a new inner business district, which will promote housing developments. We can analyse the government’s decision to build a port in Toco so that it becomes a tourist mecca full of international sailing boats and recreational vessels. We can rejuvenate our tourist offering by creating a covered food market showcasing our local food producers, and build both a state-of-the-art conference centre and a regional visual arts centre in Sangre Grande.
To achieve this we must collaborate and dare to be different and have the courage, drive and ambition to solve.
Sangre Grande is filled with people who have great ideas and an insatiable appetite for solutions. People with the courage, drive and ambition to solve real problems. People who are putting Sangre Grande on the map as a place where innovation and creativity come together in world-class companies.
What has most impressed me in the past year in my role as president of Sangre Grande Chamber is that our younger business people are using technology in various aspects, especially farming. They are, in my view, true pioneers.
These are the people in our local authorities working to shape economic development within very constrained budgets but who see beyond those budgets and have the vision and energy to want to make a change.
The Sangre Grande Chamber has engaged in discussions with Ministry of Works and Transport with regard to the Highway Development Project, paving the streets of the town and enhancement of the pavements and beautification projects.
The chamber has attended meetings with the Ministry of Trade and has engaged in discussions on the setting up of a free zone business district in our region. With the expected population growth and employment forecast, infrastructural development must be prioritised as part of our planning for city of Sangre Grande.
Our members are telling us they are feeling the cost of congestion. Sangre Grande is facing a traffic crisis that is dampening our attractiveness and reputation domestically. We can and must solve the congestion problem. Traffic plans were passed in 2012 and still waiting to be implemented.
But it is our mix of indigenous small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that is key to our success.
It’s these SMEs that give Sangre Grande its character and they have a key role to play in sustaining and driving place and people-centred development.
This town is populated by many such entrepreneurs who have worked creatively and with determination to invest, build and maintain their livelihoods in the east.
We need to keep investing and we can’t afford to let Sangre Grande fall behind – because if it does the rest of the towns in the east coast will fall behind too.
Its welcoming people, its arts and culture and natural beauty inspire all. We each have a role to play in growing our economy, to create employment opportunities and improve social and community well-being. We must fight tirelessly against complacency. We must have the courage to think big.
We must adopt our motto, because “Together we aspire, together we achieve.”
Sangre Grande Chamber of Commerce Executive:
Ricardo Mohammed – president
Kenneth Charran – vice president, Planning
Indra Sinanan Ojah Maharaj – vice president, Membership
Ya’eesh Mohammed – secretary
Damian Chow – assistant secretary
T’chelle Harris – treasurer
Lakshman Lochan – education officer
Mark Wong – PRO
Gruecharan Ragoobir – trustee
Brendon West – trustee