Ian Rolle and Derek Newbold (FDI Free Trade Zone Award)
WINNING AWARD - Derek Newbold, Senior Manager of Business Development and Invest Grand Bahama says that winning top honors in the Global FTZ competition better positions GBPA to move forward with its investment attraction efforts. - Posing with awards from left, Ian Rolle President of GBPA and Derek Newbold, Senior Manager of Business Development and Invest Grand Bahama and Small Business Bureau.
Freeport, Bahamas - The effort to improve brand recognition and establish an impartial evaluation of Freeport as a competitive business jurisdiction, led the Grand Bahama Port Authority to enter the city of Freeport into The Financial Times’ Global Free Trade Zone competition in early 2016.
“As a Free Trade Zone, Freeport has been able to witness significant growth since the initial signing of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement. However, we can certainly go further and are taking the necessary steps to enhance the way we are perceived by prospective investors on the global stage. Contests such as the Financial Times’ Global Free Trade Zone competition allow us to do just that,” said Port President, Ian Rolle.
The entry by GBPA for the FT Z award was its second attempt to have Freeport recognized among jurisdictions considered the most promising free zones across the region, after its first pursuit proved unsuccessful six years prior.
For the year 2016, Free Zones, government entities and investment promotion bodies were invited to showcase their zones detailing attractiveness, facilities and incentives offered to investors. In total, 60 entries were received from Free Zones across the world, with judges nominating their winning and runner-up locations in each region, as well as their top zones for SME and Large Tenant categories.
The Grand Bahama Port Authority’s Invest Grand Bahama division was among the winners, capturing top honours in four categories, including, Best Free Zone Overall for SMEs in Latin America & The Caribbean, Specialist Award for Best Expansions, Specialist Award for Best Educational Support & Training and Specialist Award for Best Contribution to National Economic Diversification.
FDI FREE ZONES OF THE YEAR AWARDS
GBPA PROPELS FREEPORT TO #1 RANKED LOCATION FOR SMES, WINNING THE FINANCIAL TIMES’ GLOBAL FREE TRADE ZONE COMPETITION!: GBPA’s Invest Grand Bahama division captured top honours in four categories, including, Best Free Zone Overall for SMEs in Latin America & The Caribbean. Photo of the awards are captured and are on public display throughout the GBPA headquarters.
“The competition features judges under the direction of the Financial Times of London, who evaluate the respective jurisdictions from many different aspects. They examine expansions, infrastructure, training and support for small to medium-sized enterprises and investment incentives. It is a very extensive review and evaluation process,” stated Senior Manager of Business Development and Invest Grand Bahama, Derek Newbold.
According to Newbold, following Freeport’s unfavourable ranking in its first attempt at the competition, GBPA decided to aggressively market Freeport and by extension Grand Bahama, bringing a new level of awareness to the island. “We used it as a learning experience. We looked at the areas that we were perceived as being challenged in and decided to roll up our sleeves and go to work, implementing new programs and initiatives to address those shortfalls,” said Newbold.
The sequence of those implementations began with the launching of the invest Grand Bahama campaign, followed by the Invest Grand Bahama Small Business Bureau (IGBSBB). “We actually introduced the IGBSBB to bring a more structured approach to how we went about supporting and training persons operating small to medium-sized enterprises, especially our licensees,” said Newbold. The establishment of the IGB Small Business Bureau, ultimately led to the introduction of Business Concierge Services for domestic investors, an initiative which Newbold described as holding the hands of investors from the initial application process all the way through to commencement of operations.
The recognition by industry experts is an achievement which Newbold stated is the result of focused attention and listening to Port licensees, many of whom felt that not enough was being done to promote Freeport as a Free Trade Zone. “This recognition speaks to the hard work and dedication of the GBPA team over the past several years. Being awarded the top Free Zone in LATAM and the Caribbean for SMEs did not happen haphazardly, it came about as a result of a coordinated approach to changing the status quo…. We had to get team members to buy into a vision…we had to test different initiatives to see what worked and what did not, because some programs that worked in other jurisdictions simply could not work here, ” according to Newbold.
The Financial Times’ Global Free Trade Zone competition is held annually. For the moment, Newbold says GBPA will savour its win and consider re-entering at some point. He added that the award speaks volumes. “It’s a win for the entire team, a win for Freeport and Grand Bahama. But more importantly, it’s a win for the country, because Freeport is the Free Trade Zone of the Bahamas and it’s up to all of us to ensure that we are making every effort to take advantage of what it has to offer.”
“ Invest Grand Bahama is now recognized as an International Promotional Brand and we feel confidently positioned to compete for new investments on a global stage moving forward,” concluded Newbold.