Grand Bahama’s economic season is changing, said Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson, on Thursday, February 21 at the official opening of the Grand Bahama Business Outlook. The 21st annual Grand Bahama Business Outlook 2019 is being held under the theme, “Connecting Resources, Maximizing Opportunities, Transforming Grand Bahama” at the Grand Lucayan Convention Centre. The sentiments expressed by the Minister received a rousing round of applause from the room filled with business people and students. Also in attendance were President of the Senate, the Hon. Katherine Forbes-Smith; Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Utilities, Iram Lewis; Senator the Hon. Jasmine Darius as well as senior government officials and executives from the Grand Bahama Port Authority. “This is a critical time for us in Grand Bahama. I dare say, it is one of the most important times in our generation.”
Quoting Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” he continued, “For years, we have been in a very economically challenging season. It is my considered view that Grand Bahama’s economic season is changing. Therefore, I am prepared to say without reservation, the future outlook for Grand Bahama is bright.” A report from the Grand Bahama Port Authority states there has been an increase in approved and issued licenses, as well as the report from Inland Revenue of 388 new licenses in East and West Grand Bahama, the island is experiencing steady growth. With a steady reduction in unemployment and an increase in stop-over visitors in tourism, the island is moving in the right direction but there is still much more to be done. Giving an overview of what is taking place or about to take place on the island, Minister Thompson touched on the sale of the Grand Lucayan as well as the West End Development. The recently announced Carnival Cruise Port was mentioned, and he advised residents to prepare themselves and seize the opportunity as it is expected that 12,000 passengers will visit the island daily, compared to the 2-3,000 that visit twice weekly now.
“So between now, and 2020, we have a lot of work to do. Through this
“The heavy lifting must be done by Grand Bahamians.” Announcing a new development, Minister Thompson said the Government has approved in principle the Western Atlantic University School of Medicine to be located in Freeport. Made up of former Ross University professionals, the newly-formed medical school is now continuing their approval processes and hopes to welcome students in September 2019. It is expected that the first phase of a $10 million building by the developers will begin and the project will provide 200 jobs.
As Grand Bahama continues to be dubbed the tech hub of the region, two companies GIBC and i-tel BPO, are currently operating on
“We will make our immigration policy more attractive for Tech investment. We are now finalizing draft legislation to create a special visa, known as the BH-1B Visa in keeping with recommendations made by the Grand Bahama Technology Steering Committee. This would be particularly for companies seeking to relocate their development teams to the Bahamas to retain specialized talent. The committee proposes that through the imminent population growth as a result of this program Grand Bahama will see significant economic impact in the areas of housing, national insurance, food, entertainment, education, healthcare and government taxes among other industries.”Minister Thompson also addressed free education at BTVI, UB which is expected to begin this fall, and courses currently being carried out at the YMCA.
Small businesses, he said, are getting a major boost with the assistance from the Ministry of Grand Bahama’s Micro & Small Business Grant program where to date, some 197 participants have received the training and 87 have received grants for their businesses resulting in a total of $371,000. He said, “Further, Grand Bahama’s Small Business Development Center was launched in January. In his official address, the Deputy Prime Minister noted that The SBDC is the centre stone of the Government’s campaign to stimulate Bahamian ownership, to invest in entrepreneurs and to provide micro, small and
“This is just another of several initiatives aimed at empowering Bahamians. Grand Bahama, I urge you to take advantage of