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Editorial: Grand Bahama Needs A Grand Plan - And So Does The Bahamas

Where does Grand Bahama go from here?

When Hurricane Dorian hit the island, it didn’t just create a whole new set of problems – it magnified the problems that were already there.

High unemployment beforehand has now reached crisis levels – one in two of the island’s residents are out of work.

For the government, it’s an unenviable task. If this was a medical case, the first task would be to stop the bleeding – and that’s exactly what Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest is trying to do when he says the goal is to get small and medium businesses back up and running. Large-scale projects such as resorts might be the big building blocks people might call for – but the network of smaller businesses around them is the mortar that holds them in place. People need food stores, garages, doctors, importers, hardware stores, and, dare we say it, newspaper offices.

A pledge conference is also planned to stir up donations and support for recovery efforts after the storm – turning to the world and asking for help.

Any such help that comes will be welcome – but do we need to fundamentally rethink what is happening with Grand Bahama? Indeed – will doing so teach us lessons for The Bahamas as a whole?

When the Grand Lucayan fully reopens, it will be a welcome shot in the arm for the economy – but is a reliance on tentpole tourism products always going to be our fallback answer?

Can’t Grand Bahama be… well, grander? In short, don’t we need a Grand Plan for Grand Bahama?

The world is changing, and with it the nature of jobs. The devastation wrought by Dorian can’t be described as an opportunity – but it can be a turning point.

The local chamber of commerce is right when it says that all sides need to get together to talk about what comes next – rather than each stakeholder dashing along doing their own thing without discussing whether what they are doing is the best option.

More than that, bring in some of the best and brightest minds outside The Bahamas too. If we want to attract industries other than tourism, then let’s hear from the leaders of such industries what they need.

There are issues that need to be resolved quickly – sort out the airport, for starters – but beyond that let’s not rebuild a Grand Bahama fit for the century gone by, but one fit for what the future will throw at us.

Hutchison Whampoa seems to lack the interest it had in years gone by, so either get them to be re-engaged in the island or find a way to ease them out.

There were vague discussions of creating silicon islands – parts of The Bahamas that could entice technology companies – but what has happened to that? Can we envisage a technology campus for both established names and exciting start-ups and provide them the power and internet platform they need to succeed?

Dorian was a disaster – but it may not be our last. Hanging our entire futures on tourism when climate change and rising waters may increasingly threaten our shores is short-sighted. We must diversify, and we must start now – and it starts by talking about what Grand Bahama needs.

The recovery effort there is crucial – but if it is done right, it may just prove the model for all our futures.

Comments

The_Oracle 1 week ago

There is no plan. And, at this point, Government does not see the need to create a plan. Or do they? If such a plan were presented, would they accept it and stand back and facilitate it? Or would they meddle, mangle, and otherwise kill it in their traditional way?

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birdiestrachan 1 week ago

When Dorian hit Grand Bahama it was less than three years since Matthew a Four. there was Frances and Jean who had passed Grand Bahama and turned back. the effects of Wilma. it is discouraging.

All of the talk does not mean much, it come across as cheap talk.

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proudloudandfnm 1 week ago

Suck teet. This administration inherited GB in a severe economic crisis and they have done absolutely nothing to help us out of the fog. NO ONE on GB has any faith in this administration. If anything our situation had gotten worse since they were sworn in even before Dorian. Now after Dorian we all know we're totally screwed and they won't do squat...

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banker 1 week ago

Kwasi Thompson, in spite of all his high-faluting words, as Minister of State for Grand Bahama, has done nothing but pontificate. He is a lame-duck, do nothing minister. Where is the Tech Hub?

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proudloudandfnm 1 week ago

The tech company he brought in is basically 3 people doing absolutely nothing.…

Kwasi is the worst of them... Completely useless....

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proudloudandfnm 1 week ago

Tribune you guys need to research our maritime industry. Find out how all the new customs fees have impacted ship calls to the island and the new charge for ships to drop anchor off our shore.....

Some real investigative reporting.

You'll find ship calls have been dramatically reduced for the last 3 to 4 years or so....

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sheeprunner12 1 week ago

The plan is there ............. National Development Plan 2040

To the FNM Government .................... Dust it off, and use it.

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sheeprunner12 6 days, 17 hours ago

NDP2040 ........... VISION, PLAN, STRATEGY & EXECUTION ....... ALL THERE

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