By Lashann Dames GBPA
Friday 14th May, 2010 – Freeport, Bahamas – Retail store proprietress Gloria Russell, opened up a new store in the International Bazaar two weeks ago. After qualifying for the ‘1st Year Free’ license fee waiver extended by The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA), Russell has already applied to open 2 more stores in the Bazaar.
“In an effort to revitalize the International Bazaar, stimulate the small business sector, and encourage entrepreneurship on Grand Bahama Island, GBPA is pleased to announce that we will waive the first-year’s license fee, for all approved new license applicants with operating premises in the International Bazaar,” stated GBPA President, Ian Rolle.
According to Russell, those were the words that prompted her to act quickly to secure 2 more spaces. “I thought the license fee waiver was a wonderful thing because through it you can actually see that the Port Authority is trying to help local residents. The announcement made me feel good, excited and motivated all at the same time.
President of the International Bazaar Owners’ Association, Chris Paine, agreed. “The license fee waiver on the part of GBPA is a very positive incentive. It has certainly generated a lot of interest amongst owners and I think it’s served as a catalyst for new business in the Bazaar. In fact, it’s really in tandem with what we’re trying to do as an association,” commented Paine.
Prior to the hurricanes of ’04, ’05, the International Bazaar had 85 businesses in operation. At the end of December 2009, less than 30 businesses were open. Now, with the license fee waiver in effect, new tenants are applying regularly and almost 40 businesses are in operation.
What I would like to see within the next 4 months is for the count to rise where we have 60 businesses open and the process becomes self-perpetuating,” said Paine. “We want to create a domino effect where once you have businesses opening, others will want to open and they will then feed off each other.”
Russell is doing her part to spread the word about GBPA’s license waiver incentive and the Bazaar’s turnaround. “I’m already encouraging others to take advantage of the discounts,” she said.
Paine is buoyed by her enthusiasm and the support he’s received from numerous other businesses that have also recently opened their doors and are planning to do so.
“The idea is to be proactive and recreate the International Bazaar as an independent destination for local residents to enjoy. Also, to eventually restore it as a popular touristic attraction like what it once was in years gone by,” reflected Paine.