Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest attended the Freeport Insurance Agents & Brokers grand opening of its new office center, Wednesday, September 12. The DPM praised the company’s principals, President, Lawrence Palmer; Vice President, Donald Ward and Manager of Business Development, Deborah Knowles who together have over 80 years of experience in the insurance industry. The company, which has exceeded its targets every year, grew from five employees five years ago to 20, including four who work at a branch in Nassau. According to DPM Turnquest, “It is said that when you start out something with pure intent and when you add to that creativity, hard work, discipline, and you surround yourself with good people, all with similar goals in mind – that is the success. While not guaranteed, it is certain that much more assured.” He said during the official opening three years ago that it was the right time to invest in Grand Bahama, even though the island was going through difficult times, “then was the time to plant the seeds because success and the turn-around in Grand Bahama were ahead.” The Turnquest said he sees the success so far and knowing the partners, more growth and success will be achieved.
To the nay-sayers on the current situation in Grand Bahama, the Deputy Prime Minister said, “Things do not automatically happen. People make things move. And that is what we are witnessing here today.” Listing a number of businesses who have achieved success over the past few years, the DPM gave examples of Quality Wash and Press, Food Mart Express, Fowlco Marine Management and Logistics, Elnet – all Bahamian businesses owned by Grand Bahamian residents who have confidence in the island’s economy who followed their dreams with well thought out business plans. “Let me be clear, there is no attempt here to dismiss or disregard or downplay the role that government serves in an economy. We hold the critical responsibility for creating an environment to grow our economy and enhancing the quality of life for all Bahamians. It is fair to say, things are not happening fast enough for everyone. “As a government, we remain sensitive to the struggles and pains some are experiencing in Grand Bahama and the wider Bahamas. We continue to demonstrate our commitment by implementing new practices, policies and legislation. And we know, there is a lot more work to be done particularly in the area of the ease of doing business, and we are working assiduously on that.”
The DPM then referenced the Jump Start and Self Starter programme being held in conjunction with the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. This, he said, is something he is proud of as some 80 young Bahamians have gotten a start as a result of the programme. He said, “We are very serious about Bahamians taking control of this economy. And the only thing that we require is an investment of energy, interest, discipline and creative ideas. “Because we believe that residents in this Bahamas, and particularly amongst our young people, is a wealth of creative ideas yet to be discovered, that will propel the economic growth that we need in order to sustain the young people and the not so young people that are graduating from our schools and university every year.”
About Freeport Insurance Agents & Brokers, the Minister said that with the company owned by Grand Bahamians, there is no reason why residents should not support them. “They understand us and they understand the challenges we have and so it is fitting they have taken up the challenge to provide this very necessary service to their people, Grand Bahamians.” He said, “We are reminded today that things do not automatically move. People make things move. While openings like these do not serve as a fix all for Grand Bahama, it offers tangible evidence of things getting better in Grand Bahama. Grand Bahama, like the insurance industry, has its challenging and complex dynamics. “We are all in this together. Freeport Insurance Agents & Brokers is a testament to the fact that with God’s guidance a dream, a thorough plan, and hard work, success is within reach.” Grand Bahamians do not need to be “locked” in Grand Bahama, he said, as businesses can expand to other islands. “I want to encourage you business people to think about expanding your brand. You do have something to offer and you can compete.” Grand Bahamians can teach people in the capital how to do business properly and survive in difficult challenges and circumstances.