Five Questions with Dr. Janice Barrow, the President of the newly formed Jamaican Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta

The incorporation of the Jamaican Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta, Inc. (aka JAMCHAM) was announced this past August at the Atlanta Jamaican Association’s Independence Ball. The nonprofit organization’s main mission is to provide businesses, associations, and professionals the access, voice and empowerment necessary to succeed in a competitive environment. This week we speak to the chamber’s president, Dr. Janice Barrow.

Congrats on the recent announcement on the establishment of the JAMCHAM. What is the next order of business and how many members do you have so far?
Thank you. Yes. On August 16 the Jamaican Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta, or JamCham for short, announced that it was now incorporated. Being in its infancy, the next step for JamCham is to build its infrastructure, build membership and continue to build its already impressive strategic partnerships and networks for the benefit of its members.

JamCham has 23 founding Board members made up of community leaders, business owners, business professionals, members of the AJA, and Jamaica’s Consul General to Miami who is responsible for consular affairs in 13 States of the Southern USA, as well as Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. In addition, we also have founding corporations such as the Atlanta Airport Authority, which manages the busiest airport in the world, Aroma Ridge, Inc., a coffee distributor, Gayle Tax and Accounting Consulting, Panton Capital Holdings Group, LLC and growing.

What drove the formation of the JAMCHAM? What are the goals of the JAMCHAM?
JamCham was formed out of a need for the community to come together with a unified voice, to be able to lobby for resources, to have access to solutions and opportunities, and be empowered to make informed choices and transform those choices into success. The estimates vary as to how many make up the community but there is consensus that together we make a formidable force that can make a significant impact on decision-makers.

Will the organization be providing advice and seminars on starting a business in Atlanta?
Most certainly! JamCham already has the infrastructure in place to receive and process support requests from its members with the establishment of the Member Services Support Committee. Members will be provided with access to business solution advice via strategic partners, network connections and, through access to seminars and workshops.

Based on the feedback you have gotten from business owners in the chamber what are some of the challenges they are facing in Atlanta and what are some of the main benefits for a business joining the JAMCHAM?
During our fact finding process, almost unanimously, business would like the empowerment that being part of a respected organization such as JamCham allows. This translates into areas such:  getting disputes heard and rights preserved  especially regarding transactions involving government agencies;  understanding and successfully submitting bids for contract; and being part of an organization where just being a member opens doors.

Do you envision working closely with the Jamaican Diaspora Movement and Government to provide opportunities for our members to the Jamaican market?
Most certainly! We are already working with the Consul General to Miami whose mission overlaps with ours and so have access to his resources in that regard, we are in contact with JAMPRO who stands ready to partner with us and the recent appointment of one of our Directors, Hon Jewel Scott as the Honorary Consul at Atlanta, all serve to lay an excellent foundation for serving the diaspora  and for us to collaborate with the Jamaican Diaspora Movement.

Thanks for your time and we wish the JAMCHAM all the best.
It has been my pleasure.