Grand Bahama News

Investments on the rise

Doctors, Bonaventure and insurance group moving ahead with projects

While government and the business community work to boost investor confidence in Grand Bahama, three major entities – Doctors Hospital, Colonial Group International (CGI) and Bonaventure Medical Laboratory – have already risen to the challenge and moved ahead with their projects.

In the past two and a half years, Doctors Hospital invested an estimated $5.5 million in Grand Bahama, said the healthcare facility’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Dennis Deveaux.

The most recent acquisition for Doctors Hospital is a 17-acre property where the former Shalimar Hotel sat.

“We acquired that land for what the next three decades of growth for Doctors Hospital will be for Grand Bahama,” Deveaux said.

No definite decision has been made for the property’s use yet, however, Deveaux said several options are being considered, including an administrative complex.

“We certainly have not committed to what we are going to do there yet,” he said.

“But setting our administrative footprint for not just Grand Bahama, but the whole Bahamas and potentially the Caribbean is what we are looking at.”

The healthcare facility, which is headquartered on New Providence, began its expansion into Grand Bahama in 2020.

According to the CFO, the challenge with Nassau is space.

“One of the problems we have with Nassau is that it is very difficult to expand near our main campus,” Deveaux said.

“It is very expensive to acquire additional space. So, from day one, reflecting on that experience, we contemplated what our footprint might look like in Freeport over the next 30 years and purchased that land for strategic build-out purposes.

“So, one option is that we set up a back center that manages patients’ finance issues, credit and corrections, account management, and other administrative work,” Deveaux said.

Doctors Hospital’s investments, to date, in addition to the property, includes the new Eight Mile Rock Clinic, formerly the Dr. Malik Kavala Medical Centre, the 28-unit Sea Breeze apartment complex for staff accommodations, and the former First Commercial Centre which is presently being renovated for the facility’s 30-bed flagship facility on Grand Bahama.

“It is not cheap to build a hospital and it is certainly not cheap to do it in the manner, the quality, and the standards that we have at Doctors Hospital,” Deveaux said.

“That new hospital is going to cost anywhere from $20 to $24 million to build, and we are well on our way.”

Deveaux added that demolition is completed and plans are underway for infrastructural upgrades.

“I think that phase one alone, is associated with about $3 million spent,” he said.

That amount does not incorporate equipment purchases, which Deveaux believes will be anywhere from $8 to $10 million.

“We are in Grand Bahama for the long term. We have the best and brightest team on the ground working, who really have committed themselves to that community,” Deveaux said.

Bonaventure

Bonaventure Medical Laboratory’s CFO Antonia Culmer said management’s belief that Grand Bahama’s economy will rebound was the primary purpose for the facility’s expansion.

Initially located in the Pyfrom Complex, the lab relocated to its newly renovated premises – the former Geneva Restaurant on East Mall – just over a month ago.

“We were able to acquire the building and do some heavy renovations to it,” Culmer said.

She estimated that the refurbishing ran into a little over $600,000.

“We now have the space that we needed to carry out all of the services we offer, including additional services to our full medical service lab,” Culmer explained.

“Additionally, where we have been accepting NHI patients, we are now able to accept even more NHI patients.”

Bonaventure opened its Freeport facility several years ago and since then, the influx of patients, particularly at the peak of the pandemic, was an indication of the need for expansion.

“We’ve added extra areas,” Culmer siad.

“We do ECGs on site and there is more parking space for our clients. We will be adding a few more services, including the ultrasound in the future.”

The larger building also enabled Bonaventure to hire additional staff, all local Grand Bahamians.

“So, whatever we can do to accommodate Freeport, that is what we are committed to,” Culmer said.

Colonial Group

As part of a dozen new developments recently approved by the Grand Bahama Port Authority for the island, Colonial Group International (CGI) began construction on its $4 million state-of-the-art building on The Mall, which was originally scheduled to begin in 2019 and be completed by April 2020.

However, construction was delayed, due to the pandemic.

With the project now underway, a new completion date has been set for early next year.

The proposed 12,000-square-foot building located on 1.5 acres, will be a fully integrated business campus. It will house the companies in the CGI group, and offer 2,000 square feet of rental facilities for third-party tenants.

CGI is the parent company of Atlantic Medical Insurance Co. Limited, Security & General Insurance, Colonial Pensions Services (Bahamas) and the Nassau Insurance Brokers & Agency Limited.

Businessman Darren Cooper said he is delighted to see new investments on the island, particularly on The Mall Drive.

“The Bonaventure facility, the Doctors Hospital building, and the new insurance project that broke ground a few years ago is now being done. We also see, right next to Casa Bahama, a new sign for potential condominium units,” Cooper added.

“It gives us hope that construction activities and investments are happening, things that we have been hoping to see happen for some time. We continue to hope for the best, and to my fellow business owners I say, let us ready ourselves, let us better equip ourselves and prepare for the rebuilding and revitalization of Grand Bahama Island.”

“The island’s economic recovery is high on the agenda of the Davis administration’s ‘Our Blueprint for Change’,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper.

He assured the government’s support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with $250 million earmarked to fund entrepreneurial developments over a five-year period.

“We are committed to Grand Bahama and its economic turnaround,” he said.

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