NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government signed a Heads of Agreement today for a $64 million project to bring a new medical university to Grand Bahama.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis underscored the deal withWestern Atlantic University of Medicine to operate a University School of Medicine in Freeport, represents a significant investment with 150 jobs at peak construction and 200 permanent jobs.
The new university is projected to bring $200 million in revenue for the hurricane-ravaged island within the first decade of operation.
“This major development will inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy over time, and provide direct and indirect opportunities for scores of residents,” Minnis said.
The development will include university-owned housing for faculty, staff and students on campus. It will also encompass: on-campus businesses, including a bookstore, cafeteria and a student center providing music, food, beverages, a copy center and related services.
Western Atlantic intends to build its own campus on land to be leased from the Public Hospitals Authority, according to a press statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister.
A maximum of 50 acres will be leased in three tranches, based upon the University’s satisfaction of certain deliverables.
The campus will be developed in multiple phases over the next 10 years. The first three phases represent an investment of $64 million dollars.
It will involve the construction of 98,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, lab facilities, maintenance, security and related spaces.
Construction will begin on the first phase by the end of this year.
During the construction phase, Western Atlantic has agreed to aim for an overall ratio of 80 percent Bahamian workers to 20 percent non-Bahamian workers.
Under the agreement, Western Atlantic will also work closely with the Government and local communities to develop training and professional development programs for Bahamians who want to work during the operation of the campus.
Approval to operate the campus will be contingent on the University obtaining accreditation from the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP), or an equivalent body.
Western Atlantic will also work toward receiving accreditation for its students to be able to practice medicine in the US, Canada and The Bahamas.
“This development has the potential to attract global talent and build international connections,” said Minnis.
“It also represents another opportunity to diversify our economy.”
Minnis pointed to signs of recovery progress on Grand Bahama, including the reopening of the Grand Lucayan hotel and Port Lucaya, the return of cruise ship visitors and the restoration of essential utilities.
“We have a long road ahead of us for recovery and reconstruction, but we are making progress,” said Minnis.
“Today’s signing is yet another indication of the progress we are making together.”