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'Long Island Needs Some Serious Help'

Long Island will be the site of the seventh and latest Business Outlook when the one-day forum is held at Clarence Town’s Community Centre on November 12.

The island thus joins Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma, Andros and Eleuthera, all of which are offshoots of New Providence’s Bahamas Business Outlook.

Joan Albury, President, of Outlook founders, the TCL Group, said: “To address the most pressing issues challenging the economy of Long Island, we have been fortunate to secure the participation of Captain Tellis Bethel, deputy commodore, Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Cheryl de Goicoechea, president of the Long Island Chamber of Commerce: Ian Knowles, chief councillor, local government; Edison Sumner, co-chair, VAT Education Task Force & chief executive, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation; Lynn Gape, deputy executive director, Bahamas National Trust; Philip Beneby, assistant general manager, Family Island/business development, Water and Sewerage Corporation; Dr Delon Brennen, deputy chief medical officer; Adrian Gibson, entrepreneur and attorney; and William and Britta Trubridge, The Caribbean Yoga Retreats.”

Mrs Albury added: “Not only do we at TCL believe that the time has come to take Business Outlook to Long Island, but have had requests from a number of the leading members of the community and other interested persons to establish a forum there. In fact, I would say that at this point, it’s urgent to bring the economic situation of Long Island to national attention.

“For many Bahamians who are descended from Long Island or have visited, it’s clear that the island has great beauty and economic potential, yet its young people are being forced to leave home to find employment.

“Long Island Chamber of Commerce president, Cheryl de Goicoechea, noted some of the issues that are hobbling Long Island in business and investment. Apparently, Long Island commercial fishermen are suffering diminishing catches because of poaching by foreign fishermen; Long Island is not flourishing as it once was; construction jobs are few because of the scarcity of investment; and small businesses are challenged by severe water problems,” Mrs Albury added.

“Lack of direct airlift from the United States has been signalled as the greatest challenge as regards growing Long Island tourism. The presentations at this first Long Island Business Outlook will speak on these and other issues and the way forward.”

Ms de Goicoechea said: “The business community believes an international airport and improvements to our basic infrastructure, such as expansion of running water throughout the island, resurfacing the main road and upgrading the health care facilities, will all do much to expand our economy and will attract major investment, thus drastically improving Long Island’s investment climate and creating much-needed jobs.

“Real estate sales are at the lowest they have ever been, and the main comment of visitors/potential buyers is how surprised they are that the island is not further developed after they experience its potential, owing to the natural beauty and the friendly islanders.

“With some of the highest achieving schools in the Bahamas, students wishing to return after college are unable to do so as there is no employment for them here. Our population is decreasing every day, and the age group of those here falls in the 0-16 years or 50 years and up. With no upcoming projects or investments scheduled for Long Island, our future appears very bleak. Long Island needs serious help.”

For further information or to register, interested persons may contact Margaret Albury, The Counsellors Ltd at 242-322-1000; Cheryl de Goicoechea, Long Island Chamber of Commerce, at 242-338-0103; and Dawn Simmons, Ministry of Tourism, at 464-2308. Registration for Long Island Business Outlook is also available at www.tclevents.com.

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