Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
In his address to the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) event in Freeport last weekend, Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of The Prime Minister Kwasi Thompson said that Grand Bahamians must seek out and promote opportunities.
“There are opportunities available in and for Grand Bahama,” said Minister Thompson at the November 18 event. “It is those opportunities that we should be talking about and selling our strengths, which we certainly have lots of.”
Minister Thompson noted that the theme of the event, ‘Preparing Grand Bahama for regional and global opportunities’, was in perfect alignment with the government’s mandate: to bring economic growth and relief to the island of Grand Bahama.
Thompson outlined some of those initiatives and programmes that have been, or will be, carried out by the government to help in restoration of Grand Bahama’s economy.
He spoke about the recent Tech Summit held in Grand Bahama, which was designed to lay the foundation in building the second city as the technology hub of The Bahamas.
“The government believes that Grand Bahama has the potential to become the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean,” said Minister Thompson. “We believe that this can and should become the third pillar of our economy.”
“There are real opportunities for data centres, some of which have already applied for cyber security industries, for blockchain technology, data protection and security, business incorporation centre and technology corporate headquarters and conferences.”
Minister Thompson also noted that Grand Bahama has the opportunity to be the leader in a market that it alone has – and that is the stopover cruise market.
He said that Grand Bahama has huge potential to capitalize on the stopover visitor market with launch of a new fast ferry – FRS – which sails between Freeport and Miami, along with the existing service of Balearia fast ferry between Freeport and Fort Lauderdale and the Celebration cruise ship that sails between Freeport and West Palm Beach.
“We are in discussions with Balearia, which has already committed to increasing its calls. We have negotiated the addition of the SS Classica, which will bring twice as many stopover passengers to Freeport,” said Minister Thompson.
The Minister said Grand Bahama has economic opportunities in agriculture as a supplemental industry, and the government has already heard proposals on developing farming in East End that it hopes can be made reality.
He said there are economic opportunities in light manufacturing. Recent negotiations took place between the government and Wind River Tobacco Company to bring its manufacturing plant to Grand Bahama, which would provide much-needed jobs for Grand Bahamians.
With so many opportunities becoming available to revitalize Grand Bahama’s economy, Minister Thompson noted, it becomes important to increase the ease of doing business in The Bahamas, particularly Grand Bahama.
“This will foster an environment for foreign investors, with whom we collaborate to stimulate the economy and create jobs for Bahamians,” added Minister Thompson.
“My government is actively working to establish the Grand Bahama Investment Unit, which will mirror The Bahamas Investment Authority, located in the capital. With this unit, we will be able to quickly see investment requests for Grand Bahama through from start to finish, thereby creating more work opportunities for Bahamians.”