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Thompson encourages 63 NTA trainee grads in GB

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The government has a strategy to improve the economy of Grand Bahama by promoting entrepreneurship, said Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson, during the graduation ceremony of the National Training Agency on Wednesday.

The event, where some 63 trainees graduated from Cohort 5, was held at A Social Affair Convention Centre.

The minister assured the graduates that he had a message of hope that the government is working to get people working.

“We are well aware of the urgent need for jobs and economic stimulus on this island. It is what we were elected to do. For me, it is what I go to bed thinking about; it is what I wake up thinking about. It is why I pray to God for His wisdom, and guidance and His favor.

“A major part of our strategy is first, our major tourism properties must be brought back to life. We are in continued and urgent dialogue with the principals and potential buyers for the Our Lucaya properties. We know how important these properties are to Grand Bahama. The government will not stand by and let these properties continue to cripple our economy. We will facilitate the best deal in the shortest period of time. One way or another the government will ensure that the property is renovated and opened. It is time that the government becomes the leader of our own successful destiny in this matter. This will allow you to benefit directly through employment or from smaller connected businesses.

“Port Lucaya will get more help and so for the next few months the government will step in and will be bringing activities to Port Lucaya to assist venders. I will be saying more on this on the weekend.”

The minister also noted that he has met with the owners of Royal Oasis, and advised them that that situation cannot remain as it has.

“We will also be meeting shortly with the Grand Bahama Development Company and the Grand Bahama Port Authority on moving the real estate market and making land available for Bahamians as well as improving the look of Grand Bahama. We must first look like a vibrant city if we want to attract more investment.

“Second, investment must be allowed to freely flow in Grand Bahama. We are seeing good investment interest, however this interest cannot be allowed to bottleneck. Therefore we are opening an investment unit or Grand Bahama unit of the Bahamas Investment Authority to more efficiently process applications. We are also exploring ways of reducing government regulations and red tape in an attempt to open the floodgates of investment for Grand Bahama. The more investment the more jobs for young people like yourselves.

“Third the government will develop the spirit of entrepreneurship in Grand Bahama. To this end the government will be assisting small businesses through small business development centers. We must move away from the attitude of finding a job rather than owning a business. I encourage you to develop an entrepreneurial spirit with the skills that you have received.”

These centers will be located in the New Providence and Grand Bahama campuses of the University of The Bahamas. “Once fully implemented it is our vision that the center will be the leading driver of economic growth for small businesses by empowering entrepreneurial development throughout The Bahamas. The government will assist with training, some funding, advice on funding and helping with running the business.”

The minister continued, “In addition we are actively working to begin the business to business initiative, wherein large corporations on the island will make their daily operations and demands known to aspiring or existing small business owners. Millions of dollars leave this country and I believe we can spend some in Grand Bahama. We are talented and gifted and can provide many of the services that these large companies now export. Foreign does not mean better.

“It is the government’s hope that this information from these businesses will spark ideas in entrepreneurs and create opportunities. Your business or your skill may very well have the capacity to cater to a market or need that you had not previously considered. Just as likely, you may be inspired to create a business based on a need you had no idea existed. The first will be the Grand Bahama Shipyard.

“In the next few months you will also be hearing about our Grand Bahama Tech summit which will bring talented Bahamians from around the world to create a master plan for young entrepreneurs and small businesses to make Grand Bahama a Tech hub.

“We also have plans in Grand Bahama to work with the Bahamas Development Bank to offer funding for trained entrepreneurs for specific projects.

“We will also be supporting and facilitating training in the maritime industry to take advantage of our location and infrastructure.

“Yes – having certification and internship experience is fantastic. These help prepare you to market yourself and succeed in the workforce. But the reality for us who live in Grand Bahama work will not fall into your lap!

“We can longer afford to simply send out resumes and wait for a job. Instead, use that spirit of entrepreneurship and we ought to find innovative ways to maximize our skills.

“Our Bahamian people are talented! Bright! Ambitious beyond measure. It is time that we take on a spirit of entrepreneurship in the Grand Bahama. Bahamian ownership is the key the unleashing the full extent of these qualities and gaining control of our finances.

“Certainly, it will not be easy. But I say to you, graduates, you are already on the right path. You have completed this training program and are now equipped with a unique skill-set to approach the work force and ultimately, succeed.

“As minister of state for Grand Bahama, I urge you to aspire toward ownership. Rather than seeking employment, set your bar to self-employment.

The government is more than willing to support you in this. One of our primary goals for Grand Bahama is driving this economy to become one driven by entrepreneurship and self-efficacy.

“Entrepreneurship is the key to an upward turn in our economy, and I assure you that your government stands with you to make this possible.

“Congratulations once again to Cohort 5 of the National Training Agency.

Tonight, we celebrate your achievements, but do not stop here. There is demand and opportunity all around us. Take your career and future into your own hands.”





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