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$1 million in SME support, investment promotions unit proposed for GB

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — It is proposed by the Office of the Prime Minister that Grand Bahama will receive $1 million of support for its small and medium-sized businesses, said Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson during the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s Business Innovation and E-Commerce Boot Camp on Wednesday.

The one-day event was held at the Grand Lucayan resort, and attended by a cross section of business owners in Grand Bahama.

In making his first official speech in his new capacity, Senator Thompson said the state of the Grand Bahama economy is well-known. The government, he said, “must collect more, spend less, spend more effectively and receive more value for the money spent. This will be a reality for Grand Bahama”.

He said, “Therefore it is indeed a pleasure to be a part of events such as this one that motivate and equip entrepreneurs to engage consumers and operate successful businesses.” It is time for Grand Bahama to do things differently, he said. While there was dependence on tourism and banking in the past, it is time to broaden the way business owners think so that there is more room for development.

“Let me be frank, it will not be easy, it will require more from government, more from you in the private sector, more from the Grand Bahama Port Authority, including its partners and companies. It will stretch us all, which may be difficult, but then again nothing worth having ever comes easy.

“Grand Bahama, specifically, is home to miles of previously unrealized potential. However, quite frankly, I for one am tired of hearing about our potential; it’s time we start to fulfill this potential. Under the direction of our prime minister and his government, Grand Bahama’s focus will be to flourish in industries such as maritime, aviation, technology, medical and eco-tourism as well as media production.

“This administration has committed to focus on the development of Freeport as a technology hub and create incentives to establish a financial services center in Grand Bahama.

“With this in mind, the Office of the Prime Minister has set out to establish a Grand Bahama Investment Promotions Board, with its sole purpose to promote Grand Bahama as a place for business. We are committed to partnering with stakeholders to attract new and targeted investments.

“We are committed to shortening the time investments are approved and will be setting up an investment unit which will mirror the Bahamas Investment Authority, to enable investment projects to be processed here in Grand Bahama. It is our hope that business deals will become increasingly easier to facilitate if investors do not have to go through Nassau, at least at the processing level.”

As the reopening of the hotels on the Lucaya strip is a top priority of the government, several meetings have been held with respect to the sale and redevelopment of Our Lucaya.

“The stability of any economy depends a great deal on the strength of its middle class and small to medium-sized businesses. It is time now for entrepreneurs and local businesses to prosper on this island,” said Thompson.

“It is the intent of the government to work collaboratively with the Grand Bahama Port Authority to unleash the potential ingenuity of the Grand Bahamian entrepreneur to stimulate, expand and sustain both themselves and our economy going forward.”

Thompson added: “I believe that by means of this collaboration, the economy of Grand Bahama will be jumpstarted and set on a path for advancement and success. To this end, the Office of the Prime Minister in Grand Bahama proposes in this year’s budget, which is being debated in Parliament, to spend $1 million on small and medium-sized business support.”


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