Business

Billionaire proposes multimillion-dollar North Andros development

A multibillionaire is proposing to invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” in the redevelopment of a new port, airport, healthcare research facilities and manufacturing facilities for harvested aragonite in the Morgan’s Bluff, Andros area.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong – a physician, surgeon, scientist, inventor, technologist, media executive and philanthropist billionaire with a listed net worth of $7.6 billion in 2020 – last September submitted to government an infrastructure project called the North Andros Green Free Trade Zone for the Morgan’s Bluff area. The proposal was leaked to the public this week and made the rounds on social media.

The proposal, which has been viewed by Guardian Business, requests 20 initial work permits and promises 10,819 new construction, manufacturing and service jobs.

The proposal also speaks to the harvesting of 360 square miles of aragonite in a water concession area designated specifically for harvesting and eco-tourism; and also seeks a land concession area of approximately 500,000 acres, of which 250,000 acres of marsh/mangroves would be reserved for eco-tourism. The remaining 250,000 acres would be developed within the scope of the project, with 75,000 acres being developed “by others”.

Of note, however, is that the proposal has been amended since its initial submission to the government, with a Bahamian who is closely involved with the project clarifying that no application for the project has formally been submitted.

“I’d call it a draft, because like I said that is not an actual application. That is a draft. The proposal is to develop the port which has been talked about for years, develop a brand new airport, which has been talked about in Andros for years, to do manufacturing from the mining, and also healthcare to do cancer research, but that part of the business can be done in Nassau in conjunction with what is happening out there. So it’s about healthcare, manufacturing and developing the ports,” an insider with intimate knowledge of the project told Guardian Business under the condition of anonymity.

Asked about the proposed value of the project, the insider said, “It’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The principals are seeking to raise capital investment via public-private partnerships.

The extensive 74-page proposal states that the goal of the principals is to establish a green economic zone utilizing solar and renewable land and sea resources to enable 21st century industries and services, thereby transforming Andros by implementing green infrastructure and manufacturing.

“The Bahamas and specifically Andros is perfectly suited for the implementation of the fourth industrial revolution. In so doing, the potential exists for the Bahamian people to leapfrog the world in green technologies and to be the next ‘Singapore’ of the Caribbean region,” the proposal states.

“The goal is to attract a multimillion-dollar investment from various industries, private equity firms, non-governmental organizations, philanthropic organizations and financial institutions for Andros to be a destination site as the green economic zone of the 21st century, generating sustainable industries and eco-tourism.”

Asked yesterday if the government is considering this proposal, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said, “It has not come up for consideration.”

The proposal is seeking the same kind of arrangement with the government as the 1955 Hawksbill Creek Agreement with Wallace Grove/Grand Bahama Port Authority for the Freeport Free Trade Zone.

As a part of the agreement, the principals are offering the development of an air-sea manufacturing/commercial park, with commercial and industrial lots located on the runway and port; to build a 10,000-foot international runway and terminal and a deepwater international port with police, customs, emergency services and immigration at each site; the processing and manufacturing of limestone from the port development and aragonite harvesting from the Joulter Cays sand bank area; the building of a medical research center with a clinic and medical tourism specifically for cancer research and treatments; the building of an ecotourism destination with cruise ship berths, a beach, village, day events, restaurants, a hotel and more; and the building of an economic center with retail, commercial and residential lots.

The developer also promises to generate and supply power from a substantial solar farm with battery backup and liquefied natural gas alternative; to provide water distribution by way of air generation and ground reverse osmosis, to provide sewer collection and treatment in densely populated areas; to provide cable and wireless with master grid hookup, road infrastructure and affordable hurricane resistant pre- and post-fabricated homes and offices in internationally planned communities for domestic and international workers.

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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