Joe Issa Works Tirelessly to Advance the Interests of St Ann
Joe Issa is said to be among the hardest working civic leaders in the garden parish of St. Ann, looking after its business and social interests, particularly its resort town of Ocho Rios on the North Coast.
Such is his interest in the parish Issa located the Cool Group headquarters in Ocho Rios, becoming one of the few big Jamaican companies to do so.
His tremendous contribution to tourism and the improvement of communities in the parish by sponsoring and hosting community activities involving schools and clubs did not go unnoticed.
And unexpectedly, Issa’s involvement in advocating the interest of the business community took the next turn when he was elected unopposed to head the St. Ann Chamber of Commerce. It was there that he worked even more tirelessly.
He recalls the weekend of the 41st annual general meeting of the Chamber at the Shaw Park Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios, where he expressed much humility in accepting the awesome new responsibility as president of the high profile and powerful body.
In replacing businesswoman Jeanne Dixon, who did not seek re-election after three consecutive terms at the head of the organization, Issa thanked the members for the confidence they displayed in him and gave an assurance that he would work tirelessly to advance the interests of the parish.
And he did start in earnest as, before he could finish his acceptance speech, Issa would indicate he was seeking clarification on the issue of cruise ship head taxes as it related to the ports of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, as news reports from different sources had quoted three different sets of figures.
In imploring on the authorities to treat the matter carefully, Issa said that “we must ensure that any concession given to Montego Bay was not done to the detriment of Ocho Rios.”
While not opposed to a reduction in the head tax for Montego Bay, he said, “The economy would be best served by a reduction across the board in the anticipation of greater arrivals.”
While at the chamber, Issa famously prevented the island’s 13 chambers of commerce from clashing with the government at Gordon House where they were going to march if a tax on streetlight was not rolled back. Fortunately, Issa, having been chosen by the chambers to negotiate with the authorities on their behalf, came out of the meeting victorious.
Many have wondered how he finds time for his demanding task of spearheading the growth of his over 50 Cool companies, as Issa was always on TV and radio advocating for transparency in governance and an end to corruption. He spoke on all the major issues of the day including crime and its impact on economic growth in Jamaica.
Issa even challenged politicians to take greater responsibility for their actions during election campaigns, including them signing a covenant with their constituency pledging, in exchange for their votes, to execute a certain number of priority projects for the area within a short time of coming to power.
Issa, who is used to coming out with brilliant ideas was not surprised at being taken seriously by the politicians on both sides of the isle, although they never implemented it.
However, the idea, which the Jamaica Observer called ‘The Issa initiative’ and publicised extensively, received raved reviews and wide support across Jamaica.