By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A TECH company planning to establish a multi-million-dollar venture in Grand Bahama believes the skilled workforce that will emerge from its business will attract similar entities to the island.
GIBC Digital is the first foreign technology company approved under the new Commercial Enterprises Act recently passed by the Minnis administration to attract new and diverse technology firms to Grand Bahama.
Greg Wood, CEO of GIBC, said the company was attracted to Grand Bahama not so much because of the new law, but because of the government’s vision to create a technology hub on the island.
“It is not so much the specifics of the bill in this particular case, but it is about government’s commitment to realising its vision for the country - that was the deciding factor for us,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
“We are committed to helping you realise your vision to making Grand Bahama a technology hub we all know it can be,” he pledged.
According to Mr Wood, GIBC’s initial investment cost is around $3m to get the company started in Freeport. The offices will be located in the Jasmine Corporate Business Centre.
The CEO stated that $1m is being spent on the deployment of its employees to Grand Bahama from the UK and the US to train Bahamians. The company expects to have an annual $50m economic impact by 2020.
In addition to direct economic benefits, he said that the skilled local workforce will inevitably attract other technology innovators to Grand Bahama.
“We are excited to be a part of the community,” he said. “In addition to the significant positive economic impact for Bahamians, we estimate the value to be $50m by 2020. We will firmly establish Grand Bahama as the tech hub in the Caribbean.”
Mr Wood indicated that they are about creating career opportunities and not just jobs.
“We are looking for people who are smart and motivated, and we hire as a company based on values, abilities, and skills in that order. We can train skills, abilities can be improved, and values don’t change so it is important we get values right and everything else will take care of itself,” he said.
Senator Kwasi Thompson said that GIBC’s presence is a major step forward in Grand Bahama becoming the region’s technology hub.
“This government has been focused on making technology the third pillar of our economy, and it has been our vision to advance not just the economy, but the digital economy in Grand Bahama,” he said.
Mr Thompson said the project advances the technology vision for Grand Bahama. It involves capital investment, providing employment, and providing the necessary training in the technology industry.
Ian Rolle, president of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, commended the government for the passing of the Commercial Enterprises Act, which allows companies like GIBC to be attracted to Freeport.
He said the government and GBPA are working on a number of other initiatives that will stimulate the growth of the technology industry.
“I think it is a significant industry in that we are planning to develop a pipeline of Bahamians to fit into this particular industry… as there is a significant demand for this particular industry,” Mr Rolle said.
“Now is time for the Bahamas to take advantage of a very unique opportunity, and I applaud the government for leading the cause, and I pray Freeport continue to benefit from different initiatives that are going to be introduced.”
Mr Rolle believes that the establishment of the technology sector will increase the island’s population in a very unique way. “We believe the tech sector will bring about the right type of persons here to the island to cause that to happen,” he said.