Blockchain conference participants invited to invest in Grand Bahama

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.

During the opening day of the first Bahamas Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference, presenters and visiting guests were invited by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest to invest in the island.

The conference was officially opened Wednesday, June 21, at the Grand Lucayan by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert A. Minnis. The event ends on Friday.

“The investment opportunities in Grand Bahama straddle many sectors: technology, of course, in keeping with our vision for Grand Bahama to be the tech hub for The Bahamas, to be the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean; but also the tourism industry, the maritime field, and the industrial sector,” Turnquest said.

“This is reflected in the anchor businesses currently on the island, and those projects in development and under consideration.”

Listing some of the major companies currently doing business on the island, the Minister cited Freeport Container Port, Grand Bahama Shipyard, and Buckeye Bahamas Ltd.

“All of these existing investments speak to the diverse business community we already have here in Grand Bahama, and our desire is to see the island continue to grow as a hub of innovation and industry. There are clear and present signs that investors have bought into this vision for Grand Bahama,” he said.

With the recent commitment from Grand Palm Beach Acquisitions investment group that committed $2 billion over the next ten years to repair, revitalize and develop the former Ginn Sur Mer project in West End, this development is expected to include multiple hotels, including a casino hotel, branded hotel residences, two marinas, a golf course, an organic farm, and a smart city.

“This means digital technology will be a part of the core design and operation of this resort and residential community.

“We certainly want to encourage the use and integration of technology in ways that create efficiencies, improve environmental sustainability, boost economic development and enhance the quality of life factors for people living and working in our islands.”

“In many respects, Grand Bahama is seeing a surge of interest from investors, some of whom are returning to complete projects that were impacted by the global recession,” he stated.

“The $5 million Seaward Fishing Village Project, which had its genesis in 2003, will be resuming development in West Grand Bahama. The 35-acre site in Deadman’s Reef will generate quite a boost in the construction of vacation homes, creating a unique community for year-round visitors looking for an opportunity to dock their boats and enjoy the best sports fishing on offer in The Bahamas. It will provide significant infrastructural development including the installation of underground electrical and water utilities, roads and a 1,400 ft. marina.

“Also in the pipeline is a $47 million development by Grand Bahama Project Leisure Ltd., which has been approved in principle by the government. Their plan is to build a world-class motorsport, tourism and commercial development, also in West End, to be constructed on a few dozen acres of beachfront property. The project includes construction of 300 villas and a karting track with educational facilities.”

Describing the opportunities on the island as “ripe,” Turnquest said the Bahamas Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference is timely because:

  1. “First, as a government, we set out a vision for Grand Bahama to be the tech hub for The Bahamas and the region; to be the Silicon Valley of The Caribbean, so we are committed to pursuing those opportunities that will bring this vision to life in Grand Bahama.
  2. “Second, blockchain and cryptocurrency, in particular, are dynamic and game-changing technologies, and as a country, we want to be at the forefront of their use and integration into our systems, particularly where they can improve the ease of doing business and lead to innovations that boost development.
  3. “Third, the technology sector, on the whole, is one which the government is keen to develop and promote niche markets in The Bahamas. Earlier this year, we enacted the Commercial Enterprises Act, which creates a special work-permitting structure that allows companies to set up their operations quickly, when they are making substantive investments in targeted areas in the tech sector and other areas, including Nanotechnology, Data Storage, Software Design, Manufacturing Enterprises, Wealth Management, Computer Technology, Captive Insurance, Maritime and Aviation Registration, among others.”

With the introduction of The Commercial Enterprises Act, he said, new foreign direct investment and job creation are already being seen with the multi-million dollar investment by GIBC Digital. The company has already hired 25 people and will have their official opening next Thursday. With an estimated economic impact of $10 million during the first year, the company is set to hire an additional 25 people and has made Freeport their training headquarters. They expect to expand their Bahamian operation to over 150 employees and build a state-of-the-art, sustainable Data and Al centre within three years. It is hoped their economic impact will be in the area of $50 million by 2020.

“The fourth and final reason this conference is so timely: The government has a vision of a Digital Bahamas, and we are heavily invested in the government’s leadership role in this area,” he stated.

“What do I mean by that? As a government, we cannot rightly champion ideas that we are not adopting ourselves. The more we allow the population to interact with us digitally, the more we facilitate the necessary behavior shifts to bring our vision of a Digital Bahamas to life.”

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This article was written by ROBYN ADDERLEY, Bahamas Information Services.