As he extended to his constituents and all Abaco best wishes for a prosperous New Year, Minister of Parliament for North Abaco and Parliamentary Secretary Renardo Curry said that things are looking up for 2014 and beyond for Abaco.
Mr. Curry noted that this year Abaco has seen some growth in the local economy even though there were challenges faced like the rest of the country.
“The resilience of the people seems to be the thing that keeps Abaco going even through tough economic times. We have a tradition of entrepreneurs here who keep Abaco’s economy going strong over the years, and this year was no exception,” he said.
He added “I want everyone to know that 2014 looks very good for Abaco as well as for the rest of The Bahamas.”
Mr. Curry said he anticipates the completion of a number of the ongoing projects including the airport which should be open by January and the hospital will follow possibly as early as February which would “open the door for a number of jobs and even careers.”
He said that the North Abaco Port is on stream and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) is working very closely with the government to ensure that “they not only build a project but forge a relationship that can help our local economy.”
“We are doing all we can to ensure that the people who live here benefits from this project and CHEC has been very receptive to that. Everything is running smoothly with that project and they are ready to start up in early January so we will see a number of people employed going forward,” he said.
He added that he is waiting to get all the details; however, there are a number developments ready to come to Abaco in the area near the North Abaco Port and with them will come more and new opportunities he expects.
“Despite recent challenges Winding Bay is doing well and are expecting a very good 2014 with bookings up from previous years,” Mr. Curry said. “After laying off some employees a number were re-hired and we are seeing some stability returning there.”
He noted that Schooner Bay, who has engaged a new marketing team, is expected to reach another level in their development and they are anticipating great things to come. He added that Baker’s Bay is holding their own and continues to do well.
He said that in the past year “we were able to put a number of persons to work, whether it was in the government sector or the private sector, so we are grateful to God for all that he has done for Abaco.”
He said he is also grateful to the people for keeping their heads up and “putting their shoulders to the wheel making Abaco the special island that it is.”
“So the economic outlook is bright and as long as it continues there are opportunities for entrepreneurs and for our young people to be able to find a career or develop skills,” he said.
Mr. Curry said that the government is trying to implement in all of this a way for Abaconians young and old to be trained in particular disciplines. The National Training Agency (NTA), which has been delayed from opening last month in Abaco, is scheduled to open early next year, bringing hands on education for locals.
“We will have systems in place where people can go straight to work when they finish their training; the same businesses assisting in their training may be the ones to keep them on to work,” Mr. Curry said.
They are hoping to be able to host a number of training opportunities from the resort sector, to construction, to banking or whatever may be needed, to fulfill the needs of diversified business opportunities in Abaco.
He said the Sporting Complex is still a goal which is expected to kick-off with ground-breaking coming in early 2014. He said that Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Danny Johnson has confirmed that the drawings for the facility have been completed.
“We are hopeful to get the roads completed though funding has been a factor. Recently some of the road works were stopped as the contractor had difficulty getting materials in due to the weather,” he said. He was assured, however, by the contractor that they would complete at least up to the stoplight before Christmas.
“It is my personal desire and drive to see the campus for the BTVI (Bahamas Technical Vocational Institute) be opened in Abaco,” Mr. Curry said. Joining with the local government of Murphy Town he says they have a location already in place for the facility and are looking to build a 5000 square foot building that will house the local government administration with space to facilitate BTVI.
“This will be another way we can help more people qualify for jobs they might not otherwise have an opportunity to get,” he said. “That’s one of the problems we have is that there are persons looking for work but they are not qualified, so the government is going to work with those who take part to make sure they are qualified.”
He commended all the local government representatives and the island administrators for all their hard work in their districts, and those that have gone “above and beyond” to get things done. “I am here to assist them in any way possible – I have an open door policy and any of them can come and see me any time they need to.”
He also commended all the heads of departments and their staff for their cooperation and working along with him and the Office of the Prime Minister. “We thank them for their commitment and hard work in offering professional service to the Bahamian public.”
“I wish a Merry Christmas to all and a happy and prosperous New Year” Mr. Curry said.