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Reflections on Freeport, the “Magic City” as it turns sixty

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ElcottProvidenciales, 07 Aug 2015 – The vision of developer Wallace Groves that gave birth to an economic zone on Grand Bahama that would come to be called the Magic City, Freeport, the industrial capital of The Bahamas, legally enabled by the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, turned 60 this week.

The agreement between the government of The Bahamas and Wallace Groves was signed on the 4th of August 1955 and by all accounts, the Freeport experiment was a qualified success.

Built on Pine Barren, by all accounts, Freeport is a modern and well designed city. The name Freeport was derived from the guaranteed long term tax concessions and benefits for financial, commercial and industrial enterprises by port licensees within this one of a kind economic free trade zone. At that time the advantages offered were superior to any being offered in the region.

The 1955 Act specifically stated that “no real property or rates and no real property levies (whether capital or periodic) of any kind shall be levied, charged or collected by the Government within the Port Area or upon or against any land building or structure within the Port Area.”

Additionally, “no personal property taxes or rates and no capital levies and no taxes on capital gains or capital appreciation shall be levied, charged or collected by the Government. No taxes of any kind shall be levied upon or against the earnings of the Grand Bahama Port Authority or against the earnings of a Licensee in the Port Area and outside the Colony.”

The initial vision and business model called for Freeport to be a major shipping hub, taking advantage of its proximity to the North and South American shipping lanes, and an international business center. Under the 1955 Hawksbill Creek Agreement, the Grand Bahama Port Authority established the infrastructure for World Standard Services and Facilities.

The city thrived under the 1955 tax regime and business model but was subject to the radically changing social order that was sweeping across North America and the Caribbean. This social revolution engulfed The Bahamas as it came into its own by bringing all citizens on the periphery of Bahamian society well into the Bahamian mainstream, both socially and economically; this public policy remains a work in progress.

Today, Freeport continues to offer an exceptional business climate for both domestic and foreign direct investment in the aftermath of Hurricanes Frances, Jeane and Wilma one decade ago that caused extensive infrastructural damage; the legal disputes between and the deaths of both of its principals, Sir Edward Saint George and Sir Jack Hayward; the extensions of tax concessions to east and west Grand Bahama beyond the port area; and the ongoing negotiations between the government and relevant stakeholders on the future of the tax concessions enjoyed by port licensees for sixty years.

On Wednesday 29th July 2015, the Parliament of The Bahamas extended the tax provisions for another six months to allow for a more in depth analysis of the local economy and to finalize a strategic economic plan for the island going forward.

On Freeport’s sixtieth birthday, the voices of Grand Bahamians were heard on this decidedly successful commercial experiment, its growth and development over the years, and its promising future. The recurrent themes were the lack of economic activity and job opportunities, especially for our youth.

“I believe that the magic has gone out of Freeport; the drive that the movers and shakers had for Freeport died now…I guess it died with the person who was in charge and when they died the vision died as well” said one resident.

“For the last twenty years Freeport has gone totally down. Since the storms, there was no type of replenishment for Freeport” said another Freeport resident.

“Some people doing okay; some people doing bad so I guess it depends on what you into” was another observation.

“Freeport right now…the state it in, you could see it, it picking up slowly but what needs to really happen right now we need more…basically for the youth more job opportunities” was yet another view.

One lady felt strongly about opening the former Princess Towers and Princess Country Club:
“People need work. They need to do something with that big hotel down at the Bazaar, the Princess, I mean open it up or do something ‘cause people need jobs. Young people coming out of school – they need jobs.”

One observer believed the principals made a strategic error in developing Freeport. He commented on the structure and function of the Freeport model.

“The successful business model created by Wallace Groves was transformed by the Hayward/St George shareholders, who determined that assets critical to the operation of a “Freeport” were to be either partially or completely sold off to outside interests. Under new management those entities became profit centers, thereby increasing operational costs – a disincentive to potential investors; the power company, the Freeport Harbour Company, the airport company and the Grand Bahama Development Company (are just a few examples).”

The complaints about high airport landing fees, the high cost of aviation fuel and the absence of a modern airport post Hurricane Wilma have reached the highest levels of government and will no doubt figure prominently in the current negotiations.

We thank the observers for their frankness and brutal honesty.

In the end we congratulate Freeport on its sixtieth birthday and Bahamians remain optimistic and hopeful of its return to its lofty perch as the “MAGIC CITY.”

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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TCIFA Referees selected to participate in FIFA RAP Course

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#TurksandCaicos, August 18, 2022 – It is always a massive boost when not only our players are given opportunities to develop, but also our Match Officials. The FIFA RAP (Referee Assistance Programme) presents referees with an opportunity to not solely refresh their understanding of the laws of the game, but also to improve with the ultimate objective of being appointed to the FIFA list of International Referees. This year, a FIFA RAP Course is set to take place in Nassau, Bahamas on August 25-28. From the TCIFA, three referees have been granted the chance to partake in the course; Watson Antoine, Anice Bernadin, and Leonard Suckrajh.

The course also serves to renominate existing FIFA Referees onto the list of International FIFA Referees for 2023. Last year, Anice Bernadin made it onto the list for International FIFA Referees for 2022 as an assistant referee, being given the chance to represent the Turks and Caicos Islands on the international stage.

The program is divided into two parts- theory of refereeing, as well as the practical elements. In order to qualify for this list, referees are required to pass the FIFA Fitness Test.

Patrice Senior, Head of Referees at the TCIFA, commented the following, “The role of the referee is key for the implementation of a football match, that is to interpret and enforce the laws of the game. Referees require positive learning environments with a framework that incorporates continuous development based on meaningful performance objectives – that allows successful promotion through the ranks from the grassroots level, up to the football league and beyond.

She continued by saying, “I am pleased to see the hard work and dedication of our referees in these Turks and Caicos Islands. I would like to congratulate those persons nominated by the TCIFA, Watson Antoine, Ancie Bernadine, and Leonard Suckrahj, and wish them all the best on their journey to the 2022-2023 FIFA International Referees list.”

Patrice also extended thanks to President Sonia Fulford and the TCIFA. She’s also shown gratitude towards the Bahamas Football Association for continuing to include the TCIFA.

Refereeing is a vitally important part of football. For our referees here in the Turks and Caicos to be given the chance to improve their knowledge and experience in an international setting is nothing less than magnificent.

 

Written by: Joshua Hall, Intern

For more information, please contact TCIFA Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Candia Ewing at 941-5532 or cewingtcifa@gmail.com

 

Address:

TCIFA National Academy

Venetian Road

Providenciales

Turks and Caicos Islands

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FortisTCI partners with Sam’s Club and Cargo Express/Tropical Shipping for Solar Energy 

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Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (Thursday, August 18, 2022) – FortisTCI is pleased to announce that Cargo Express/Tropical Shipping and Sam’s Club have signed onto the Utility-Owned Renewable Energy (UORE) program.

FortisTCI has leased the 18,000 square foot roof space of Sam’s Club, a grocery wholesale business on Leeward Highway in Providenciales, to install a 312.8 kW solar photovoltaic system. Once commissioned, the system will produce renewable energy for the country’s electricity grid and avoid approximately 317 metric tons of carbon emissions annually.

FortisTCI has also leased the 13,000 square foot roof space of Cargo Express/Tropical Shipping’s building on South Dock Road in Providenciales to install a 200 kW solar photovoltaic system. The system is projected to avoid approximately 188 metric tons of carbon emissions annually once commissioned. Both systems will be installed by the end of 2022.

The UORE program, operated by FortisTCI, has been in place since 2015. The program now has 18 partnerships following the recent signees, which will increase the number of solar energy system installations across partner properties.

Customers undergo a pre-qualification process, and successful applicants receive incentives for leasing their roof space and the solar energy produced by the system. FortisTCI purchases, install, maintains, and owns the solar system at these properties at no cost to the customer.

Commenting on the partnership, Director of Cargo Express/Tropical Shipping, Carl Simmons stated: The Cargo Express brand is eager to partner with FortisTCI in advancing renewable energy initiatives in the TCI. This partnership allows us to protect the environment by generating electricity using solar energy, thereby reducing the use of fossil fuels. The installation of solar panels on Cargo Express’s 13,000 square foot roof will benefit our organizations and the wider community.”  

Owner and Manager of Sam’s Club, Gus Karagianis stated: “I am very fortunate to qualify for the UORE program operated by FortisTCI. I hope that more businesses that can qualify for the program, embrace the opportunity, and one rooftop at a time, we can all make a difference in creating a more sustainable energy future.”

President and CEO at FortisTCI Ruth Forbes stated: “We wish to commend our newest UORE customers for supporting the journey to a more sustainable energy future. Roof-mounted solar installations have allowed us to steadily increase our solar footprint year-over-year. Our studies have found that at least four acres of land are needed to produce 1MW of solar energy.

Therefore, we continue to maximize roof spaces through customer partnerships. We also continue to pursue regulatory reform to advance our clean energy plan, which includes investing in utility-scale solar projects. By December 2022, we expect to have at least 2.6 MW of solar energy installed on the grid.”

 

Photo Captions:

Header: (L-R) Vice President of Innovation, Technology and Strategic Planning at FortisTCI, Rachell Roullet,  President and CEO at FortisTCI, Ruth Forbes, Owner and Manager of Sam’s Club, Gus Karagianis, and Manager of Innovation and Resource Planning, TeAnn Thomas.

Insert: Rachell Roullet,  President and CEO at FortisTCI, Ruth Forbes, Director of Cargo Express -Tropical Shipping, Carl Simmons,  and Manager of Innovation and Resource Planning, TeAnn Thomas.

 

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TCI Beach Soccer National Team Players Train in Italy

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#TurksandCaicos, August 18, 2022 – In June of this year, Pisa Beach Soccer, located in Italy, presented an opportunity for two of our Beach Soccer National Players to train alongside their team. This opportunity was nothing short of astounding. Herby Magny and Makenson Cadet were the two fortunate players who were chosen to train with the Pisa Beach Soccer team. Pisa Beach Soccer is ranked at the top of the Italian Serie AON Beach Soccer League and in addition to that, they are the reigning champions from last season.

This entire experience would not have been possible for Herby or Makenson if it was not for the recommendation of Matteo Marucci, Head Coach of Pisa Beach Soccer as well as Head Coach of the Turks and Caicos Islands Men’s beach Soccer Team. Coach Marucci has a long-standing history within the sport of Beach Soccer, representing Italy in both the 2015 and 2017 Beach Soccer World Cups.

Both Herby and Makenson engaged in a series of intensive training sessions that took place over a ten-day span.  These were morning and evening sessions. The morning sessions were coached by Bruno Xavier, Captain of the Brazilian Men’s National Beach Soccer Team. Bruno is not a new face to the Beach Soccer World, he was awarded World’s Best Player in 2014 and was a part of the Dream Team from 2014 to 2018. In the morning the focal point was working on core, balance, agility, and strength. The evening sessions consisted of a training session with the Pisa Beach Soccer first team under the supervision of Coach Marucci.

When asked for a comment on what It was like to train with the team, Herby Magny had the following to say, “It was one of the best experiences in my soccer career. It has made me fall in love with the beautiful game of beach soccer even more. Training with the Pisa Beach Soccer Team was conducted at a different level than how I’m used to training. The level of intensity and professionalism stood out the most, as most of the players are key players for the Brazilian & Italian national teams.” He went on to add, “The first 2 sessions were difficult as the guys did not really know us and so they didn’t pass to us during the games, however by the third day onwards it was fantastic, as we proved ourselves. The guys welcomed us like their own teammates and involved us in every play.”

Fellow teammate, Makenson Cadet, had this take on his time spent in Italy, “The experience was needed. Italy is beautiful, the food was delicious and training in a professional environment was top notch.” He continued, “What really stood out to me is the passion they had for the game, it’s unbelievable some of the players still have to work full-time jobs because they are not getting paid enough, but they still showed up every day with the same strong mentality. Matteo is a really good coach and a good person as well.”

Without doubt, these training sessions challenged Herby and Mackenson for the better. Both players expressed an abundance of gratitude for the chance to take part in the training sessions. Experiences like these are crucial in the development of our players here at the TCIFA.

 

Written by: Joshua Hall, Intern

For more information, please contact TCIFA Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Candia Ewing at 941-5532 or cewingtcifa@gmail.com

 

Address:

TCIFA National Academy

Venetian Road

Providenciales

Turks and Caicos Islands

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