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America’s Cup: Bermuda’s opportunity

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Now that the America's Cup award celebrations are over, it is time to buckle down as a country and make sure we take full advantage of this historic opportunity to show the world what Bermuda is made of.

We have been given a fantastic opportunity to achieve something together, where the benefits can spread far and wide, into households across the Island.

This is our time to shine, but to do it we'll need all of us to get on board and be at our best, with everyone pulling together.

And why not? The America's Cup means opportunity — to revitalise our tourism industry, to help government right the country's finances, to strengthen the Island's international brand that is vital to our economic well being, and for the abundance of opportunities that will be created for Bermudians to put their skills and ambitions to work.

It is going to take a lot of work, coordination and smarts to make this work, but on the basis of what I've seen so far — from the great work done by the Government and private sector to win the Cup against tremendous odds, to the terrific outpouring of public support from the start, I am confident this is going to roll big time.

But we'll need to get it right, and so I would like to take this opportunity to put forward my view of what Bermuda will need from key stakeholders to make that happen.

GOVERNMENT

Bermuda has secured the Cup as well as some World Series Events — what a coup! I think it's fair to say that many have not yet had the chance to appreciate the enormity of this event and the multitude of benefits it can generate for us as individuals and as a community. On Friday, Government committed to ensuring that all Bermudians get the opportunity to be included and involved. Integral to that commitment is the responsibility to communicate clearly how all Bermudians can benefit.

There are many in the community who are wondering how they can benefit from this great opportunity.

Small business and entrepreneurial opportunities must be identified, communicated and supported. Same for job and career opportunities, with support provided through training programmes. These opportunities will only benefit Bermuda long term if their realisation is seen to be equitable and fair. The aim must be to have all boats rise with this tide.

OPPOSITION

I was encouraged to hear the political leadership celebrate this achievement.

The tone set by non-Government leaders – as well as Government – is of utmost importance to ensure that this, of all issues, does not get hurt by politics.

Requesting that the financials behind the bid be shared with the general public was both reasonable and expected.

I am glad, now that the bid process is over, that Government has informed the country: $250 million in estimated revenue for the Island and $52 million committed by Government to secure the bid.

UNIONS

I believe that both Unions and Employers share the desire to have fully operating workforces, as this is indicative of a healthy economy.

Unions should see both increased hours of work for their existing members and new members filling new job positions.

There is a lot of work to do to prepare for the event and we must ensure that overly protectionist attitudes do not stifle job-creating developments. Employers and employees must treat each other fairly.

However, should disagreements arise, it is imperative that processes be respected and exhausted. Interruption of service must be a last resort.

PRIVATE SECTOR

Bermuda is going to be in the world's spotlight as well as exposed to an influx of high net worth guests. We need to deliver on their expectations, fine-tune our customer service skills and understand that we are all an integral part of our hospitality product. If we play our cards correctly and do this right, everyone will benefit financially. Our services need to be excellent and our prices fair. The potential for return business will depend on this. I know that there are many landlords who have been stressed these last few years. However, please avoid the temptation to create inflationary rent spirals that will leave visiting tenants jaded and local tenants hurting.

I hope that highlighting our responsibilities has not dampened the mood at all. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we have to be at our best to make it the best of times for each other and our Island home.

Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) Nick Kempe
Artist's impression: the proposal for the South Basin Marina will involve the reclamation of around 11 acres inside the existing breakwater, creating a gravel-surfaced island

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Published December 13, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 13, 2014 at 12:20 am)

America’s Cup: Bermuda’s opportunity

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