By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Organisers of the annual Bahamas Business Outlook (BBO) “guarantee” this year’s version will be the “best ever” through a speaker line-up focused on key national issues.
The Prime Minister, Dr Hubert Minnis, will deliver the keynote address this Thursday and is expected to reveal the Government’s plans for economic growth and development in 2019. Graham Whitmarsh, managing director and chief executive of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), will then explain how his agency is transforming local healthcare.
He will be followed by Zhivargo Laing, chief negotiator for The Bahamas’ accession to full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership, who will provide an update on the process. Marcellus Taylor, acting director of education, will speak to the future of Bahamian education.
“These are all important topics in the public’s current dialogue. So we’re pleased that BBO is a forum that makes significant contributions to national conversations,” said Joan Albury, president of The Counsellors and the conference’s chief organiser.
“We guarantee that this will be our best-ever Bahamas Business Outlook, and we believe that this year’s theme ought to become the mantra for The Bahamas in 2019. It’s important for us to really connect resources, where the private and public sectors work together so that The Bahamas capitalises on every opportunity for economic growth.”
Under the theme Connecting resources, maximising opportunities: Transforming The Bahamas, the 28th annual Business Outlook will be held this Thursday at the Baha Mar Convention Centre.
It will feature topics including The risks and rewards of a family-owned business, presented by Tara and Quinn Russell of Louis & Steen’s New Orleans Coffee House; Millennials in the Workplace #Whycantwegetalong, with Stacia Williams, Fidelity Bank’s group human resources director, and Player and coach in the Visual Arts industry with John Cox, founder of Popop Studios.
Mr Cox, who is also creative arts director at Baha Mar, said his presentation will highlight how the economy-at-large recognises that creative talent plays a key role in The Bahamas’ economic development through collaboration with local institutions.
“We’ll look at the kind of benefits that come as a result of that attachment to institutions and the challenges that come along with what it means to be a professional artist. These are simple questions that have evolved. These were the same questions asked 30 years ago, but the answers given back then are not adequate for today,” Mr Cox explained.
“We see a whole lot of opportunity for growth, and a whole lot of opportunity to capitalise on what is in The Bahamas and look at how we can develop a platform in this country to broaden the definition of who we are to the world.”
The conference will end with three interactive sessions. Davinia Blair, executive director of the recently-launched Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), will moderate a session with three entrepreneurs.
Persons from the Ministry of Finance and Department of Inland Revenue will conduct a workshop about procuring business licenses and other business documentation. The Bahamas Engineers, Architects & Allied Professionals (BEAAP) will also featured in a panel discussion on industry concerns.
Marcus Laing, architect and BEAAP secretary, said he and fellow panellists will speak to the gap that exists between where The Bahamas is now and where it should be in terms of construction and infrastructure.
He explained: “There are some loopholes that the Government needs to close to increase their revenue. What we often don’t realise is that construction is one of the main indicators of how well a country is doing. We as an organisation have identified that a lot of opportunities to capture a lot of business are being missed. And that affects the entire economy.”
Bahamas Business Outlook 2019 is one of a seven-island series, which takes place each year, covering challenges and opportunities relating specifically to each destination. In addition to New Providence, these islands include Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera, Exuma, Long Island and Grand Bahama. The latter will host the next Business Outlook forum on February 21.
Persons interested in attending may contact Margaret Albury at The Counsellors at email@example.com or at telephone (242) 322-1000 or register or online at www.tclevents.com.