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Small business initiatives provide positive impact for local economy in Freeport
  
Sunday, 22 January 2012 07:17

Ian RolleFREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- For the past two years, executive management at the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) have launched a series of business development initiatives, all focused on revitalizing Grand Bahama’s economic community.  To date, despite the current economic environment, the local small business community has embraced the initiatives offered by GBPA and the opportunities provided.

According to president,  Mr. Ian Rolle, the GBPA has given a committed effort to making the new business start-up process easier and less costly for aspiring entrepreneurs.  “Starting a new business can be a daunting task for entrepreneurs and GBPA wants to make the process of doing so as simple and streamlined as possible. We want to encourage entrepreneurs to venture out, embrace the opportunity of owning a business, but not tie them up in forms and bureaucratic red tape. We feel confident that all of our new initiatives do just that,” Rolle states. 

“The economic environment is very challenging at the moment, however, persons are finding areas and opportunities to invest so that they are positively positioned when the economy turns for the better; we applaud their drive and positive outlook.” Rolle continued.

2012 will mark the second consecutive year that the GBPA has offered the License Fee Waiver for new businesses opening and operating in the International Bazaar. According to Mrs. Nicole Colebrooke, GBPA’s Customer Relations Manager, this initiative boosted occupancy in the International Bazaar within three months of its launch.

She also advised that more store owners are working to make space available, as persons are continuing to submit applications, taking advantage of the License Fee Waiver initiative. “At one point, we were told that there were no more spaces available in the International Bazaar. But, of late, we’ve been receiving calls from property owners, letting us know that they have spaces available if and when we have applicants interested,” states Mrs. Colebrooke.  She also shared that more than 45 applicants were approved for new business start-ups in the International Bazaar, 85% of which were a direct result of the License Fee Waiver Initiative.

Other initiatives such as Shared Office Space, Warehouse Storage Space, Licensee Referral and most recently the Custom Bond Initiative, have each had a positive impact on the small business sector through job creation, and add to the island’s economy making a turnaround.

While some of these initiatives, have only been in effect for a short period of time, Grand Bahamians haven’t wasted any time in taking the necessary steps to qualify, capitalising on the opportunity to start their own businesses.

 

“We have received a tremendous amount of feedback from the public. This, I believe speaks to the enterprising spirit of our people; they want a chance to empower themselves," states Colebrooke. "These initiatives provide the ideal opportunity to get started and we encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to take advantage of them where possible and become successful business owners,” she continued.

Noting that while areas like Downtown and the International Bazaar are already experiencing a boost, President Rolle shared that future initiatives and business development projects will create even greater incentives to start small and medium size businesses. “So far, areas like the International Bazaar and the East & West Mall Downtown areas have already seen a significant turnaround. With the incentives being extended into 2012, we hope to see more new businesses come on stream, leading to increased job creation and the return of a robust small business sector in the near future,” Rolle concluded.

Photo: Building a Robust Small Business Sector – GBPA President, Ian Rolle states that GBPA officials have made a committed effort to making the new business start-up process easier and less costly for aspiring entrepreneurs.


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