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Good news emerging for Grand Bahama

In his New Year’s address Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis revealed a $2.5 billion, 10-year development was pending for West End, Grand Bahama. Grand Palm Beach Acquisitions Ltd. plans to redevelop the old Ginn Sur Mer property, which went into bankruptcy.

The project is needed on the island. Grand Bahama has experienced recession, and at times near-depression conditions, for more than a decade.

In his news conference on May 31, the day after the budget communication, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the West End deal was close to conclusion. A sign-off is possible this month.

In a press release yesterday, the potential owner said the new development will be known as Bahama Bay by Grand Palm Beach Acquisitions Limited. Skyline Investments, through Grand Palm Beach Acquisitions Limited, is negotiating a heads of agreement with the government to purchase 2,012 acres.

Skyline Investments is a publicly traded Canadian investment and management company.

“We are proud to have the opportunity to develop Bahama Bay and be part of the West End community,” said Gil Blutrich, chairman of Skyline.

“We believe that that this development will have a significant impact on Grand Bahama. We know that both the West End community and Skyline will grow together and become a major player in the hospitality industry in The Bahamas.”

A town hall meeting was held in West End on Friday.

Derek Gape, director of operations for the West End project, said following the signing the heads of agreement initial goals for the first 24 months of the project include: creating a new 120-room hotel with commercial retail spaces and amenities; redeveloping and reopening the West End airport; adding an additional 75 slips to the existing marina at the current Old Bahama Bay site; and bringing the world-class golf course into full operation.

Just as this project appears close to starting, the protracted talks to sell the Grand Lucayan properties seem to be nearing resolution.

Two weeks ago Paul Wynn, CEO of the Wynn Group, said he hopes to finalize the deal for the hotel complex by the summer.

“It is very, very complex,” he said during the groundbreaking of the Wynn Group’s Residences at GoldWynn in New Providence.

“It is a very, very difficult project. I think we are almost at the finish line now. It has been very hard. The government has been absolutely fantastic in trying to get the Grand Lucayan open and get people working.”

The reopening of the resort is expected to revive inventory of 1,000 hotel rooms and provide jobs to nearly 1,000 people.

These two projects would pump life into the Grand Bahamian economy. There were only 70,692 foreign air arrivals to the island last year, down from a peak of 487,089 in 1988.

Additionally, last week GIBC Digital hosted government officials on a tour. The company is one the first to benefit from the Commercial Enterprise Act in Grand Bahama.

Its official opening is scheduled for the end of this month. GIBC Digital has pledged to hire 50 people with an initial investment of $2.5 million.

At the announcement of the investment last month, Kwasi Thompson, minister of state for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, said the company expressed plans to expand its Bahamian operations to more than 150 employees and to build a state-of-the-art sustainable data and AI center within three years, bringing an economic impact of $50 million by 2020.

Right-thinking Bahamians should want these projects and proposed deals to succeed. The poor economic environment in Grand Bahama has caused homelessness and people to leave the island in desperation in order to find opportunity elsewhere.

The success of these initiatives will help Bahamians. We should not cheer for their failure because we are against the government. Our people are the ones who will benefit. Being employed will help them buy food, pay their utility bills and pay their mortgages.

These projects are a start for Grand Bahama. We hope there is more to come.

 

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The loss of 2,000 low paying entry-level jobs is no big deal

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