President of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association Gregory Aboud says notwithstanding current challenges with issues like wrecking, vagrancy, and crime business in the capital has come a long way over the years.
Taking a look back, he said some of the early businesses were owned by Portuguese, English and French people.
"A lot of the Portuguese businesses were in the beverage business for want of a better word. The first supermarket in the country was formed by Mr Cannings which went on to become what we know today as the Massy Group. These were the original participants in downtown business."
By the 60s the business landscape started to take a different shape with the introduction of Syrian businessmen.
"After the war years, a new class of merchants evolved primarily from the peddler class of which my forefathers are part of that class. People often say that they were vendors. We were never vendors. Our forefathers were peddlers. We didn’t pitch a stall in front of anybody’s door, we actually went from door to door in residential neighbourhoods, that is what my forefathers did, and from the culture of saving and the culture of prudence came enough to establish themselves to own a shopfront and to grow."
Aboud said in the 70s a lot of businesses were destroyed during black power riots and then again in 1990 during the attempted coup. He estimated that at least 40 per cent of businesses never bounced back.
But he said the construction of the Brian Lara Promenade has helped in boosting business.
Now, the DOMA president is of the view that Port-of-Spain can return to its former business glory.
"It is important to have a city to have that social exchange where people from all walks of life can meet each other, and that is one of the reasons why we will not give up on Port-of-Spain, one of the reasons why the country should recognise the need to protect commerce in Port-of-Spain and the other towns and cities."