ERC investor forum planned for Thursday

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A major investor forum is taking place on Thursday as the government rolls out its policy plans for the development of three areas in which it hopes nationals will assume lead roles.

The hybrid forum will be held virtually in part while participants attending at the Sandals Grande Resort will receive in-person facilitation.

The forum is a joint undertaking of the government and the Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) which together will guide Antigua and Barbuda out of the economic morass brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This forum will highlight the investment opportunities available in three major areas of development in Antigua and Barbuda: the Dredge Bay Development, now renamed the Paradise Bay Development; the Willoughby Bay project and the Entrepreneurship for Development,” the ERC stated.

It said the government recognises the need to make investment opportunities available in order to build and develop the national economy.

Member of the ERC sub-committee planning the event, Paul Ryan, said the committee is very aware of the economic costs that many people have had to bear due to no fault of their own. He highlighted the loss of jobs in the hospitality and travel industries as examples. With this in mind, Ryan said reviving the economy and giving nationals the opportunity to reap greater rewards from development in the country has been one of the main concerns of the committee.

Making specific reference to the Willoughby Bay Development, Ryan said the plan involved the development of three thousand acres of land into a thriving urban centre with amenities including hotels, banks, insurance companies, supermarkets and a marina. There will also be green areas, walkways and areas for parking. 

The businesses that will be prioritised include agriculture and agro-processing, tourism and hospitality, property rentals, light manufacturing, commercial services and entertainment.

Developed with technicians from key government departments playing lead roles, the plan will be developed in stages over of period of ten to fifteen years in what is known as Transient Oriented Developments (TOD’s).

The development will start with one specific area with the other areas added over time, however, at the heart of the development is the central role of nationals.

Thursday’s investor forum will allow the committee to present their plan to would-be investors and the public who will be able to view on a number of live streams.

The Paradise Bay project calls for development of several attractions to complement the expansion and redevelopment of the St. John’s Harbour. There, opportunities will be available for individuals to set up businesses.