By GENEA NOEL
FN Senior Reporter
Freeport, Grand Bahama- Entrepreneurs are demonstrating an increased confidence in the local economy as several new businesses have opened within the last several months.
According to Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) president, Peter Turnquest this is more reflective of the fact that people are recognizing that jobs are few and far between and have taken the general advice and are creating their own income.
"We are very happy to see the number of people that are spreading their entrepreneurial wings and we hope that the population will support them so that they cannot only support themselves and their families, but hopefully grow into a sizable entity in Grand Bahama and really make an economic impact on the community," Turnquest said in an interview with The Freeport News.
While this may be good news for the economy, the Chamber's president said that individuals should start to think a little bit more outside of the box in terms of the types of enterprises that they are going after.
As the GBCC works toward its own economic plan for the island, Turnquest said the increased confidence in the economy ties into what they are trying to accomplish.
"We hope to encourage the creation of small and medium-sized businesses that will provide the bedrock for our economic revival and sustainability."
With new businesses being established, partially in the International Bazaar, Turnquest said that people are finally beginning to appreciate that they have a very attractive asset that has been underutilized.
"I think that it is very important for the Bazaar to come back as a viable shopping and tourist destination, because it creates a bit more touristic opportunities for the island in terms of things for tourists to do. I would like to see a few more higher end stores going into the Bazaar, but overall we are happy with the investment that is going on there," he added.
"If we continue with the trends that we have going, and there has just been a number of new businesses approved by the Licencees' Commit-tee, with the level of activity and shops that are going on there now – we are soon going to have a mini mall where you can get any kind of service you want – so I think it is exciting."
Incentives are currently being offered by the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) for persons going into business and despite rejecting the government's request to allow a business tax holiday, Turnquest said that its leadership is doing all they can.
"It is great that they (GBPA) are providing incentives for persons who want to do business. The GBPA is a private entity that derives its revenue from the licence fees, so there is only so much that they can do. I applaud them for what they are doing but I encourage them to look at other areas that they may be able to offer similar type of assistance," Turnquest said.
"I am hopeful that with the head start that they have given these businesses, they will be able to make something out of it so that next year when the licence fees do apply, these businesses will be able to pay their fees and will be able to continue in business and prosper from there."