Over-the-Hill initiative courting local contractors

The Over-the-Hill Initiative is attempting to engage members of the Bahamas Contractors Association (BCA) to utilize their businesses and skills to inject new life into the inner city.

The multi-million-dollar rejuvenation project, introduced by the Minnis administration earlier this year, aims at promoting social and economic empowerment.

Samita Ferguson, Executive Manager for the Over-the-Hill Initiative partnership program addressed members of the BCA during their monthly luncheon on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s important for us to engage the BCA to partner with us because we know that they could provide such a huge pool of resources to the entire initiative; we’re talking job opportunities and skills training,” Ferguson said.

“There are individuals within the Over-the-Hill communities who may be seeking jobs and of course, if BCA members opt to partner with us, they can provide providing skill set training to them.”

Ferguson revealed that BCA has a pilot programme in the pipeline which is targeted at providing skills training to interested unemployed Bahamians.

She said she is hopeful that the association can run the same programme in conjunction with the Over-the-Hill initiative as well.

“The BCA has a pilot programme that they are working on where they tap into individuals, train them, certify them and then seek to employ them,” Ferguson noted.

“That is also a part of the Over-the-Hill initiative and what we are trying to do as it relates to social and economic empowerment.

“So, it was important for us to come and network and connect with members here at the BCA today so that we can exchange vital information to forge a mutually beneficial partnership.”

The initiative’s first phase of rejuvenation is set to begin with the overhaul of the southern recreation grounds and other community parks.

“When you have a greener space and proper facilities for individuals to engage; there is less crime and there is more engagement and also economic empowerment that can be bursting forth from the park area,” she said.

“When you think about the closeness of downtown; individuals can sell their Bahamian products and even products from backyard farming and they can sell these things on the parks for their economic empowerment.

“Once you change the mindset visually, then people take pride and ownership into wanting to have, and maintain, cleaner communities. We expect this initiative to succeed in doing these things.”

An estimated $20 million has been earmarked for the roll-out of the Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership program; the brainchild of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Dr. Minnis said government remains hopeful that the rejuvenation program will not only provide a facelift for businesses and residential properties in the community, but also that crime and criminality will drastically decrease as well.

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