Attorney outlines how to jumpstart GB economy
Allowing Bahamians to gamble, producing pre-packaged projects for foreign investors, and looking at the value of business centers are just some ways to get Grand Bahama’s economy jumpstarted again, attorney at Dupuch and Turnquest Thomas Dean said during the Grand Bahama Business Outlook on Thursday.
Dean, who was part of a panel discussion on the way forward for Grand Bahama, contended that a properly developed business center on Grand Bahama could possibly produce thousands of jobs in the space of a year and a half.
He said while the beaches of the island are a much sought after piece of Grand Bahama, at the heart of its economy are businesses.
“Because that [business] is the heart and soul of what could drive the development of The Bahamas,” said Dean.
“Now a lot of people may not understand that, but if you were to go and visit the Cologne section in Panama, and you look at the business that’s being done there, how efficient, effective, transparent and clear and easy it is to do business there, you will understand that that has likely the ability to create, I would say in excess of six or 7,000 jobs in the space of 18 months.”
Dean said Grand Bahama could also become a hub for gambling for Bahamians, which could allow the government to collect a sin tax.
He contended that if foreigners aren’t visiting Grand Bahama in numbers, maybe Bahamians will if there is the right kind of entertainment for them.
“If we cannot get the foreigner to dole out his money to come here for tourism, why can’t we get the Bahamian out of the Nassau to come here and dole out his money? Grand Bahama was once known as the entertainment capital of The Bahamas. Remember, when people come here they must be entertained,” he said.
“Why isn’t local gambling in a casino here not allowed, are we not mature enough to police ourselves? Are we trying to not regulate it? If so, put a sin tax on it and make it work. Attract the money out of Nassau. Attract the money that’s being earned in Abaco. Make Grand Bahama a destination not only for everybody else, but in particular for ourselves, right? People go where people are happy, correct?”
Dean also explained that investors like to be placed into pre-packaged projects. He referenced Jamaica’s attraction of Spanish hoteliers to Negril by preparing land specifically for their type for project and then going after them. He suggested The Bahamas consider similar things for Grand Bahama.
“They [Jamaica] approached the Spanish hoteliers, all seven of them,” said Dean.
“Five of them came. If you go to Negril today… The Bahamas boasts, what, 13,000 rooms?
“Negril built 15,000 rooms in the last four years. Just in Negril. So you have to understand these things about initiatives.
“We need pre-packs. Investors like to come and be placed and placated to say here is the deal that’s available, here are the requirements, you can go off and come back if you’re ready.”