Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chamber forges ahead with economic plan

The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce's work on creating an economic plan has been successful so far, said president K. Peter Turnquest, and the committee intends to continue with full speed in the new year.
The committee has been working to collect input from various stakeholders, and intends to compile a document outlining possible solutions to the major challenges facing the island.

"We are moving along. We've had several forums with various stakeholders which have gone very, very well. We've gotten some very good feedback in terms of the issues that are affecting us and retarding our business development. We've gotten some very good possible solutions to those issues," Turnquest said.

The dialogue will continue next year, he noted, as more sessions have been planned beginning in January, which will include the small and medium sized enterprises on the island.

"We will be soliciting participants for that very shortly, and then we'll go on to financial institutions, the religious community, unions and other stakeholders and hopefully we will be able to wrap this phase up sometime at the end of March and then we'll start to write our reports on what has been discovered and what the potential solutions to those issues are and then from there we'll go into the actual design of our program," he said.

The Chamber's economic plan is a three-phase one.

Phase I, which has been completed, was to educate and train the Chamber's Board of Directors and Chamber staff on the elements necessary for effective Economic Development - identifying stakeholders, issues detrimental to economic growth and those change agents that may provide the keys to mitigating those issues identified.

Phase II will include established consultation sessions with those stakeholders and change agents identified in Phase I. The purpose of these sessions is to discuss and present the critical findings on each issue as determined by stakeholder work groups. It is essential that a consensus is reached on how to resolve the critical issues during this Phase. The issues and resolution of these issues will be presented to the public prior to beginning Phase III.

"I've been very, very impressed with the kind of feedback that we're getting, it's been very insightful, so we're very pleased and I think we're going to have a very good product at the end of the day to work with going forward," Turnquest said.

Phase III is the development of a Grand Bahama Economic Development Strategy and Implementation Plan. The Chamber will work with its committee and consultants to develop a project team that will prepare a comprehensive and practical redevelopment and development plan based on the findings of the stakeholders and subsequent confirmation of the findings as well as the Economic Development Strategy.

The strategy will focus on the key assets of the island, but also include appropriate direct investment as well as working to expand the existing companies located in the Grand Bahama area.

That strategy will include entrepreneurial development and ways to encourage and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit. The Chamber also hopes to identify significant catalyst projects that will promote economic development.

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