GB Chamber of Commerce
(Photos) GB Chamber of Commerce 2011 Installation Banquet with remarks by US Ambassador, Nicole Avant
Mar 3, 2011 - 10:44:11 PM

Elected Officers of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce l-r: Jennivee Nelson, Esmond Weekes, John Swain and Peter Turnquest (Photo: Derek Carroll)

Freeport, The Bahamas - The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce held their installation banquet on February 12th and enclosed are the names of the new board of directors and photos of the event by Derek Carroll.

The event was under the distinguished patronage of U.S. Ambassador, Nicole A. Avant who gave remarks (below).

The 2011 board was officially installed by island Administrator Don Cornish. Peter Turnquest of Telcom Trading & Consulting Ltd., and Chairman of the Board of SkyBahamas remains as the Chamber's president. John Swain, first vice president; Esmond Weeks, second vice president; Wayne Russell, treasurer and Jennivee Nelson, secretary. Senior directors are: Patricia Outten and Neville Wilchcombe. Directors are: Marvin Adderly, Janet Albury, Christoper Baker, Tanya Carey, Donna Jones and Lisa Turnquest.

The evening included entertainment by the Grand Bahama Youth Choir, the Royal Bahamas Police Pop Band, and Rasheed Robinson.

Read a related Freeport News article

"The year 2011 not only marked the beginning of a new year for opportunity, but also for us an intentional decision to move forward in the community." President, Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Peter Turnquest (Photo: Derek Carroll)

l-r: Hon. Kenneth Russell, Ms. Arlene Cash-Spellman College, Hon. Zhivargo Laing, U.S. Ambassador Avant, Peter Turnquest, Katherine Forbes-Smith, Bahamas General Consul., Hon. Dion Foulkes and Mercynth Ferguson (Photo: Derek Carroll)

l-r: Peter Turnquest and Administrator Don Cornish (Photo: Derek Carroll)

l-r: President re-elect Peter Turnquest and wife Sonia Turnquest, U.S. Ambassador Nicole Avant, GBPA president Ian Rolle and wife Barbara Rolle (Photo: Derek Carroll)

l-r: Artist Chantel Bethel presenting gift to U.S. Ambassador Nicole Avant (Photo: Derek Carroll)

Grand Bahama Youth Choir performance (Photo: Derek Carroll)

Dancing the night away to the sounds of the Royal Bahamas Police Pop band (Photo: Derek Carroll)

l-r: Mrs. Bahamas World Keldra Pinder and U.S. Ambassador Nicole Avant (Photo: Derek Carroll)

U.S. Ambassador Nicole A. Avant (Photo: Derek Carroll)

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Nicole A. Avant
The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce Installation Banquet

Freeport, Grand Bahama

"Building a Better Community with Excellence"

February 12, 2011

Thank you for the kind introduction.  It’s wonderful to be back in Freeport and I appreciate the invitation to join you.

When I arrived in The Bahamas as the United States Ambassador over a year ago, I came to listen, to learn and to act.  Now that I am into my second year as Ambassador to The Bahamas, I have a better understanding of the Bahamas and her people and culture.  I have listened to your voices and heard your insights.  And, as a result, I believe the partnership between the United States and The Bahamas has been strengthened-to the benefit of both of our countries.

As I move forward, I continue to be honored to represent President Barack Obama and the American people here in The Bahamas.  More importantly, I look forward to working with the leaders of this great country to “Build a Better Community with Excellence.”

More than ever, economic competitiveness relies on a country’s most precious resource --its people… particularly the younger generation.  A country that develops not just its financial capital but also its human capital will be well positioned to benefit from today’s economic opportunities.

High education standards have long been a characteristic of rising nations with strong economies.  As President Obama said in the State of the Union Address on January 25, “When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance.”  He highlighted countries like China and India; two countries that have excelled because of significant investments in their young people.

These countries start educating their children earlier and preparing their young people for college at an earlier age.  They have proven that investing wisely in education generates real, quantifiable results for workers, businesses, and society.  Countries where young people graduate from high school and college without tangible 21st century skills have lower rates of productivity and are less competitive.

In the United States, every school district and community is grappling with the challenge of ensuring that the next generation is prepared for our rapidly changing global environment.  President Obama is working to address the “knowledge gap” by supporting innovative leaders who firmly believe that students have the right to a top education, regardless of where they live.  I am proud to say that there are shining examples in America’s toughest neighborhoods, such as the Harlem Children’s Zone and the KIPP Academies.  One of the key elements of these and other successful programs are public-private partnerships targeting youth before Pre-K, through high school and beyond.

I share President Obamas’ belief that education is the key to any nation’s future.  But the responsibility should not fall solely on teachers or the school systems.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once said - invoking an ancient African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.”  In this era of globalization, it is imperative that every school, family member, government official, community organization and business leader work together to inspire and cultivate the next generation.

This is the reason that the U.S. Embassy supports a reading program launched in 2005 by then Ambassador Rood at Woodcock Primary School.  This program continues today with the sustained commitment of embassy volunteers who travel every week to the school to share the joy of reading with eager youngsters.  I am so proud of the fact that the reading program, which began in one school in Nassau, has been endorsed by the Ministry of Education and replicated nationally.  I challenge business and civic organizations to partner with the Ministry of Education to expand the “Read to Lead” program in Grand Bahama.

I’ve witnessed firsthand the positive difference it makes in a young persons life when you take time out of your schedule and mentor a child.  When a country invests in its youth, it benefits both socially and economically.

The U.S. Embassy is also working with students at the high school level; a very critical age.  Last month, I traveled to Atlanta with eight winners of the U.S. Embassy’s 2011 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. essay contest.  My husband Ted and I spent a weekend in Atlanta with these emerging young leaders representing New Providence, Freeport, Abaco, Crooked Island and San Salvador, where we were hosted by one of Freeport’s finest leaders - the Consul General to Atlanta, Katherine Smith, who is here tonight.  We spent a day visiting historic civil rights sites with the students and where each student shared the Dr. Martin Luther King quote that inspired their essay.  The highlight of the trip for me and for the students was meeting Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, who encouraged the students to be a positive voice for change in their communities.

These are just a few examples of the U.S. Embassy’s efforts to encourage the youth of the Bahamas to dream big and reach for new heights.  And I applaud all of the business leaders here tonight who are working publically and privately to support the aspirations of young people throughout The Bahamas.

Changes in the global economy will continue to affect the way the world does business.  Both American and Bahamian children will grow up and compete in this age of globalization.   A capable workforce that performs with excellence can distinguish itself as a leader in its industries. The World Tourism Organization estimates that the number of tourists visiting foreign countries will reach 1.5 billion by 2020, nearly triple the level of 2000.  This explosive growth will offer opportunities as well as challenges as The Bahamas keeps pace with increasingly discerning tourists.  The Bahamas will be forced, in a positive way, to reinvent and rebrand itself as a country that offers more than sun, sand and sea.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that The Bahamas is a beautiful country- it truly is a Gem and it is blessed to have Freeport, which is already equipped with a structured layout, modern infrastructure and vast land to attract exciting new opportunities.  There are investment opportunities waiting, but they must be seized.  There are also outstanding students who eagerly await the support from the private sector to translate their academic experience into tangible skills in the work place and The United States Embassy stands ready to assist whenever and  wherever possible to help make this happen.

Thank you.

© Copyright 2011 by -