SANDY POINT, ABACO – Tyrsoz Family Holdings, the developer behind the $300 million South Abaco resort and marina project has agreed to make available $7 million via a business development fund exclusively for Bahamian entrepreneurs seeking to establish businesses in the project, it was revealed yesterday.
Speaking at the signing of the heads of agreement yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said: “At least six months prior to the commencement of operations of the project and in coordination with the Small Business Development Centre, Tyrsoz has agreed to put in place a South Abaco Business Development Fund.
“The Fund will assist Bahamian entrepreneurs in training and business development opportunities and will provide direct financial subsidies to support the businesses during the initial operational phase of the project,” he said.
Minnis also noted that the developer will undertake a number of infrastructure commitments under the Heads of Agreement.
“The developer, at its expense, will undertake a number of community enhancement projects and infrastructure investments in South Abaco, including: the expansion and enhancement of the existing Sandy Point airport in order to accommodate private jets and make it fully operational, inclusive of a fixed-based operation; the expansion and renovation of the airport to accommodate a terminal, parking area and runway extension, and; the extension of Queen’s Highway.”
According to the prime minister, the developer has also agreed to invest up to $1 million dollars for the restoration of the exterior of the historic Hole-In-The-Wall Lighthouse and the surrounding area.
“This will include the restoration of the out-buildings, in cooperation with the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) and the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation (AMMC) to provide a small museum of the area and a shop featuring local artisans and craftspeople,” Minnis said.
“The restoration and operation of the Lighthouse will be undertaken in partnership with the Government of The Bahamas, the AMMC and the BNT.
“As a part of the Lighthouse renovation, the developer will: invest up to $500,000 dollars to create a safe and secure facility for the public to climb to the top of the Lighthouse; create the South Abaco Lighthouse Society (SALS), modeled after the highly successful Elbow Cay Lighthouse Society.”
Tyrsoz will provide a perpetual contribution of $250,000 per year and assist with organizing donations and; invest up to $250,000 dollars to provide public access to the beach area near the Lighthouse.
Up to $250,000 dollars has been committed to restore the Alexandria settlement ruins adjacent to the South West Point Development.
Minnis also noted that $750,000 dollars has been committed for community development initiatives in Sandy Point, Abaco in coordination with the Sandy Point community and local government.
The project which has been known about for some time has sparked concerns by local environmental groups.
The prime minister noted construction on the project and any other construction beyond the high-water mark will be prohibited until the review and approval of the Environmental Management Plan by the BEST Commission.
The developer must also submit an Environmental Impact Assessment for review and approval. Dr Minnis said the project is expected to employ 600 workers during the construction phase, adding the developer also expects to bring on 600 workers for the operational phase.
Minnis said: “Located north of this Project is the Abaco National Forest, which is managed by the BNT. The Trust presented a conceptual plan for the Abaco National Park to the developer.”
“I am pleased to note that the developer proposes to cooperate financially, up to $1 million dollars, and operationally to implement the conceptual plan in certain agreed upon areas, including cleaning up the Forest, signage, creating nature trails and a welcome center.”
Minnis also noted that entrepreneurs will be consulted to develop eco-tourism excursion opportunities, including bird watching and bone fish guides.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the fund was $700,000.