Wednesday, 14 October 2015

STATE OF GRACE: Civic pride, star power reign at AMCHAM’s glitzy 2015 gala

HAVING HER MOMENT: Special honoree Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (rocking a bold new look) strikes a pose inside the Grand Jamaica Suite.

WHAT: The 2015 AMCHAM Business & Civic Leadership Gala 

WHERE: The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston 

WHEN: Tuesday evening 

GUEST LIST: Given the black-tie occasion, class and elegance ruled as Ambassador Luis G. Moreno, Ed Bartlett, Mike Fennell, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Kiki, Carlette DeLeon, Oliver Clarke, Garth Walker, Minna Israel, Lisa Hanna, Kelly Tomblin, and countless others mixed and mingled in the hotel’s Grand Jamaica Suite. 

HIGH NOTES: Emcee Terri-Karelle Reid (a curvaceous vision in a sparkling designer gown) kept the proceedings flowing smoothly with wit and élan. Come to think of it, it isn’t hard to see why the Rising Stars hostess is in such high demand these days. Dinner and entertainment were a match made in heaven, thanks to master saxophonist Dean Fraser, who delivered a delicious musical feast (Marley, Pharrell Williams tunes) squarely matched by the delectable culinary fare (herb-encrusted jerk breast, BBQ lamb loin, passion fruit cheese cake) that graced the more than 50 tables in the sprawling ballroom-esque suite. 

AWARD WORTHY: Now in its sixth year, the gala (produced by the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica) celebrates, highlights and promotes businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations that are driving and achieving economic and social progress in Jamaica through ethical leadership, stewardship and community-building activities. “These awards offer an excellent way to honour the quiet heroes, the corporate entities that are giving back,” noted Fennell, the chief judge, “and those individuals whose exemplary service through tireless giving to other is contributing significantly to nation-building.” 

MOVERS & SHAKERS: Securing the top vote from the judging panel, these organizations and individuals make up the class of 2015: Father Richard HoLung (Lifetime Achievement Award); Joseph M. Matalon (Civic Leadership – Individual); The Heart Institute of the Caribbean and the National Commercial Bank (Corporate Social Responsibility); Kiwanis Club of New Kingston and the SOS Children’s Village (Civic Leadership – Organizations); and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Special Award for Contribution to Brand Jamaica) 

WHAT COMES ‘NATURALLY’: The evening’s keynote address came from Wes Edens , principal of the US-based Fortress Investments Group, which has partnered with the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) to bring natural gas to Jamaica. “It’s a much less volatile commodity, and it helps make the climate much better. It burns very clean, very pure, so the environmental impact is nothing to worry about,” Edens, a co-founder of the NBA team the Milwaukee Bucks, assured the audience. “The way forward ten, twenty years from now will be the combination of renewable power and natural gas.” Since joining forces with the JPS, Fortress has been gradually making strides locally, particularly out in St. James. “In terms of where we are right now, a gas terminal is being constructed near Montego Bay,” and we are committed to getting it finished by April,” Edens revealed. “Geographically, this island is ideal for us. There’s no place like Jamaica. JPS is doing their part, we are doing our part, and we’ll see how it all turns out.” 

ENDORSING EDENS: For his part, the JLP’s Ed Bartlett describes Fortress’ presence in Jamaica as a step in the right direction sure to benefit the island’s Vision 2030 outlook and our sustainable development plans. “First of all I want to extend a warm welcome to [Wes Edens] and congratulate him on being the first of what I hope will be many more investors to come with the natural-gas alternative for more cost-effective energy solutions,” Bartlett noted in a post-dinner interview with TALLAWAH. “I think it’s a good start to deal with the whole matter of cost-effective energy to enable our manufacturers and other stakeholders to be more productive.”

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