When business SPARKs fly in Johor

For the future: Fu (centre) with (from left) Star Media Group special officer in group managing director and chief executive officer’s office Loo Phan Kooi, Chin Huat, Boon Hock and Eng at SPARK Johor 2019 in Johor Bahru.

JOHOR BAHRU: Star Media Group Bhd’s inaugural SPARK Johor 2019 kicked off with the largest turnout of corporate figures and business people in the state.

The event, which was held at Trove Johor Baru, saw about 300 guests turn up to share their insights and tap into ideas that were useful for their business.

Star Media Group chairman Datuk Fu Ah Kiow said the event was not just a sharing session with Star Media Group but also a way to spark ideas, creativity, innovation and growth.

“At the same time, it must be able to address real issues and opportunities faced by businesses in this ever changing climate,’’ he said in his speech.

Also present at the event were Johor International Trade, Invest¬ment and Utilities Committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse and Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim.

Fu said as one of the top five contributors to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), Johor played a huge role in Malaysia’s growth story.

He said Iskandar Malaysia’s progress as it worked towards its vision of becoming an economic powerhouse and international metropolis was truly visible.

“Many of you here today know us as The Star, The People’s Paper. We are proud to carry that name and to still be the preferred English news source for Malaysians,’’ added Fu.

Like many other businesses today, he said, Star Media Group was going through a major transformation and was excited for the next phase of the group’s journey as it transitioned into a digital-first organisation.

He also announced the expansion of the Johor office workforce to better serve the people, including providing more coverage on news and development in the southern state.Puah said moving forward, the next chapter of Johor economic growth would be quality and not just quantity investment.

“Investment amount is important, but we prefer investment that has higher growth potential and high-value chain in line with the government’s 3H policy – high-tech, high-value and halal industry,’’ he said.

Puah said according to statistics released by the Malaysian Invest¬ment Develop¬ment Authority (Mida), Johor attracted RM1.7bil in investment in the first six months of 2018.“From July to December last year, the investment amount approved by Mida for Johor rocketed to RM28.8bil in the space of six months,’’ he said.

Puah said the bulk of the investment came from the manufacturing and petrochemical sectors, adding that Johor remained the leading investment destination in the country with Selangor in the second spot with RM18.9bil and Sarawak third with RM8.6bil.

Ismail said the journey over the past 12 years to develop Iskandar Malaysia as a strong and sustainable metropolis of international standing had been challenging and satisfying.

“Iskandar Malaysia received RM293bil in total cumulative committed investments from 2006 until March this year, where 56% or RM166bil have been realised,’’ he said.

To date, he added, local investors had contributed 62% to the total cumulative committed investments while the remaining 38% was from foreign investors.

He said China, Singapore, the United States, Japan and Spain were the top five countries with the highest cumulative committed investments in the economic corridor.

“The SMEs have also benefited from the progress and development in Iskandar Malaysia and Irda will continue to work with them for mutual benefit,’’ said Ismail.

Guests also gained insight into topics such as “Successfully pitching stories to The Star” by StarBiz editor Jagdev Singh and “Analytics 101: From Data to Insights” by Star Media Group Analytics head Freddy Loo.

At the event, six charitable bodies also received contributions totalling RM190,000 from Star Foundation, a charitable arm of Star Media Group aimed at raising, receiving and administering funds for various causes to assist organisations in their operating expenses, upgrading of facilities and running of existing programmes.

Source: The Star Online