By Matt Maura
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis and his delegation returned to New Providence, Wednesday, after completing a three-day business visit to the state of Texas, U.S.A., “very encouraged” by the discussions and meetings that took place over the course of the three days.
The Prime Minister termed the Texas meetings and discussions, “very encouraging,” adding that they have laid the foundation for further engagement.
Texas boasts the second-largest economy in the United States of America at more than $1.6 trillion, trailing only California and ahead of New York and Florida. The state is also home to 100 of the 1,000 largest public and private companies in the United States of America, including U.S. giants such as AT&T, ExxonMobil and Dell.
“Not only does Texas have the second-largest economy in the United States of America, but its economy is larger than both South Korea and Canada,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
“It is our intention to harness the relationship with Texas and continue the discussions we have had. We will continue to establish and to build relationships with those economies that can be beneficial to The Bahamas and Bahamians.”
The Prime Minister’s first stop was Austin, considered the “Silicon Hills” of Texas because of the cluster of high-tech companies in the Austin metropolitan area including Dell, Hewlett Packard, Google, Samsung and Cisco Systems, among others.
Prime Minister Minnis was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Darren Henfield; Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. James Kwasi Thompson; His Excellency Sidney Collie, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States of America; His Excellency Joshua Sears, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Prime Minister; His Excellency Cornelius A. (C.A.) Smith, Non-Resident Ambassador-designate for Central American States and Mrs. Linda Mackey, Bahamas Consul-General, Miami.
The Austin visit was part of the Minnis Administration’s plan to establish Grand Bahama as the technology hub of the region, and follows on the heels of Grand Bahama’s hosting of its first major Technology Summit in Freeport, in November 2017.
Prime Minister Minnis met with Texas Governor, Mr. Greg Abbott, at the Governor’s Mansion (January 22) where the two discussed and exchanged views on a number of issues including education, renewable energy, investments, technology and relations between the state of Texas and The Bahamas.
“Governor Abbott has fond memories of The Bahamas, having visited our beautiful country many years ago,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “I, of course, invited the Governor to come back again.”
Prime Minister Minnis and his delegation also met with Austin Technology Council/Texas Association of Business partner companies at which time they discussed “our interest in attracting technology companies to The Bahamas, particularly Grand Bahama.
“That meeting was very encouraging and we have laid the foundation for further engagement. We visited the Dell centre where we met with top executives and technology specialists. We explored several technological applications.”
Prime Minister Minnis said a “significant highlight” of the visit was his meeting with the Bahamian Diaspora and Bahamians studying in Texas.
“I informed them of developments and my government’s plans for our country,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “I had the pleasure of meeting a number of distinguished persons and friends of The Bahamas – all of whom expressed their love and respect for our country.”
Prime Minister Minnis also visited with television Evangelist, Pastor Joel Osteen whom the Prime Minister said: “has been a source of inspiration to me, many Bahamians and the global community.”
The Prime Minister said Pastor Osteen has agreed to visit The Bahamas in the near future. Officials are excited over the possibilities that visit can generate from a tourism perspective, considering Pastor Osteen’s large following not just in the United States of America, but globally.