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2005-05-17 18:18:14

Exuma Chamber Of Commerce Revived

Reg Smith, a realtor, who returned to the island last year, has been elected president of the chamber.

GEORGE TOWN, Exuma As a consequence of the economic boom currently being experienced in Exuma, a group of business people have revived the Exuma Chamber of Commerce.

Reg Smith, a realtor, who returned to the island last year, has been elected president of the chamber.

Describing Exuma as "the modern new frontier of The Bahamas," the new president said the chief objective of the chamber is to organise the business community in Exuma.

"We see Exuma as a whole. We need to promote Exuma as a whole, he said. "We need the people in Emerald Bay and Four Seasons to become truly involved in the community in a meaningful way .... and they are doing that, but we need to enhance that."

He said Exuma can become the most important island in The Bahamas but because of the vast acreage of commonage property on the island, its growth must be properly planned and monitored. The Chamber, Mr Smith feels, as an active watchdog of the island's business community and investments, will be able to offer invaluable advice to the government and potential investors.

The catalyst for the activity on the mainland is the Emerald Bay Development and the Four Seasons Hotel. From William's Town in the East to Rolleville in the West are visible signs of construction of apartment complexes, single-family homes and office complexes.

Bank of the Bahamas and Royal Bank of Canada are in the advance stages of the construction of branches here, to join Scotia Bank, which is also opening a second branch. Nigel Bowe's Out Island Inn, which used to be the pride and joy of George Town in the 1970s, is being restored.

The chamber president, who is director of sales for Emerald Bay properties, said Exumians need to have inputs in the way the island develops and business people - local and foreign - need swift approval for the various ventures they wish to engage in.

"We need a liaison between the private and public sector so that we can have a smooth operating network. As a businessman, you're not going to wait six months to get a response from a department ... you're going to know the buttons to push."

Daniel Strachan, a consultant in the prime minister's office for business and economic affairs in Exuma and a director of the Chamber, intoned Mr Smith's remarks, saying, "There is a tremendous amount of business activity taking place in Exuma construction, mainly of office buildings and apartments and homes, is bursting at the seams.

"We have a challenge here ... we have an acute shortage of office space and an acute shortage of living accommodations."

The Exuma Chamber of Commerce was first formed in 1980 with Vernon Curtis of Seaside Real Estate as its president.

However, due to a down turn in economic activity in the island, it became dysfunctional in 1984.

The executives of the revived chamber are Reg Smith, president; Floyd Armbrister, vice president, Vernon Curtis, Wendy Rowe of H.G. Christie, Rochelle Brown of Brown and Company, Debbie Moxey, Daniel Strachan and Everette Hart, the island administrator.

Mr Smith made the following comments about the chamber's directors:

"I tried to get the people who I thought had their fingers on the pulse of what is going on ... people who could point me in the direction I need to go.

"Our goal is to make Exuma the hub of the South East Bahamas. To us it's not what happens it Exuma, but also what happens in the this part of The Bahamas."

Charity Armbrister, who is in charge of the membership drive, reports an excellent response from the business community.

By: NORMAN ROLLE, The Nassau Guardian

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