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Florida-based Trini businessman to invest $20m in Chaguanas

Thursday, October 13, 2011
LEFT: Mukesh Rampersad RIGHT: Prestige building- Prestige Auto and Cycle Body Works’ North American headquarters. PHOTOS: SHASTRI BOODAN

A $20 million investment that incorporates environmentally friendly technology is coming to the borough of Chaguanas. This word comes from Miami businessman Mukesh Rampersad, who is spearheading a group of businessmen to invest the busy central borough in the areas of door manufacturing and automotive customising. In an interview with the Business Guardian, Rampersad said the investment should see the creation of more than 150 jobs over the next two years and the introduction of new “green” technologies and training. Rampersad left T&T 25 years ago and started from the ground up in the furniture manufacturing industry and went on to establish the Prestige Auto and Cycle Body Works in Florida. Rampersad said market research was done in T&T.

He said this country has a lot of car enthusiast who would be willing to pay for the expert customising work his company can perform. On the furniture side, Rampersad said the operation plans on using local teak and hardwood sourced from Guyana to manufacture doors and other types of furniture for export to European and North American markets. Rampersad said he feels good about coming home to T&T to invest since he believes that the time was right since there are numerous opportunities being offered by the Government. Rampersad said the downslide of the North American economy has not affected his business substantially.
He said Prestige deals with five big insurance companies and gets a small bite of the auto repairs that emanate from the estimated 160,000 annual collisions reported in Broward and Dade counties in south Florida. Deputy Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodhan said the borough received a lot of criticism when it sought to twin with the city of Lauderhill, Florida, last year. He said detractors said the move would have not borne any fruit.

Boodhan said: “This is what were are trying to do: get more investors coming to central and T&T in a bid to diversify the economy and generate employment. Chaguanas has a wealth of human resource and, of course, land for the establishment of factories and other business ventures. The borough is surrounded by former sugarcane lands that are now controlled by the EMBDC (Estate Management and Business Development Company Ltd).” Boodhan said he envisions more T&T businessmen living abroad returning and making an investment. “We have a good climate for investment, the Government is offering several incentives and working on the problem of crime. People in the outside world are taking note. We are selling ourselves (Chaguanas) as the place to be, the place to invest.”