This year the economy of Grand Bahama will be driven by a variety of private sector developments. The government is presently negotiating Heads of Agreements for major developments in Grand Bahama. Once completed, they have the potential to spur numerous construction jobs during the developmental phase and many new permanent and full-time jobs upon completion. These projects include but are not limited to, the Lucayan Strip Reopening, The Oban Energies Project and several projects in the West End area. Additionally, the government will continue to encourage small and medium-sized business development through its recently introduced GB Micro and Small Business Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurial Incentive Program. Phase I of the Program consists of a two (2) week Business Readiness Training Course designed to assist start-up entrepreneurs as well as existing business owners with acquiring the fundamental skills and tools in business management best practices aimed at preparing them for the running of successful business operations.
Phase II of the Program allows each qualifying candidate the opportunity to compete with their colleague entrepreneurs, for a chance to win an available business grant of up to $5,000.00 for start-up or expansion of their business idea. 20 persons have already been selected for grants and another group of 60 will begin phase1 next week. This year, we envisage the creation of some 30 new businesses which will become about as a result of our Apiary Program which is a collaborative effort between the Office of the Prime Minister Grand Bahama the Bahamas Development Bank and the Inter-American Institute for the cooperation on Agriculture to stimulate the honey production industry.
Talks with the Grand Bahama Port Authority are ongoing and once the necessary consultations have taken place with all the relevant stakeholders, we envisage the passing of a new Grand Bahama Incentives Act. We are also focused on ensuring that as New Providence and the rest of the country focuses on improving the ease of doing business, that Grand Bahama will do the same by considerably reducing the red tape for Bahamians and Foreign Direct investors alike. We are redoubling our efforts with the particular aim that, business license fees in the Port Area for small and micro business should be reduced. We have followed up on the successful GB Technology Summit with the creation of our Grand Bahama Technical Hub Steering Committee which comprises an the assemblage of some of the best that technical minds our country has to offer.
We have challenged the committee to complete the Technology hub plan within this the month and immediately begin to introduce recommendations to attract technology companies and create more jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for Bahamians.We expect that Tourism will receive another much-needed boost in April of this year as a result of the new Bahamas Paradise vessel which will bring additional stop over tourists to complement the Grand Celebration. Overall, the government will continue to focus on private sector growth over a variety of industries to further bolster Grand Bahama’s economic turnaround and the creation of more economic opportunities for Bahamians.