Grenada could soon become home to the largest yachting marina in the Eastern Caribbean as construction works begins on earnest on the Clarke’s Court Marina in the south of the island.
The island now stands to benefit from an injection of US$30 million being poured into the project by New Zealand investor, Kelly Glass.
The investor has reportedly purchased the marina, which was put up for sale by a local commercial bank from its previous owner.
Addressing a gathering of tourism stakeholders and government ministers including Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and former Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sir James Mitchell, the investor said that the project should be completed by May next year.
Glass praised the level of assistance given by the relevant persons on the island to help facilitate the sale of the marina and the start of work on the project.
However, he cautioned government leaders to always appreciate the fact that private sector investors with money must always be treated professionally.
“In this day of high speed communications and growth, private sector investors that have money must be dealt with in a professional and expeditious manner as there are many countries with development opportunities looking for investors,” he said.
The project is expected to create jobs for some 70 employees within the first instance and some permanent jobs on completion.
Glass, who was reportedly encouraged to invest in Grenada by his long time friend Lyden Ramdhanny, a former Minister of Tourism in the ill-fated 1979-83 Grenada Revolution, said he plans on building a world-class Marina on the island.
General Manager of the new enterprise, Connor Holmes told the ceremony that the business concern had to go through a rigorous process to ensure that the environment was protected at all levels of the planned development for the area.
This, he said had to happen because the site of the marina is nestled between the country’s Dove Sanctuary and a Marine Protected Area which is considered as a home to a mangrove forest.
“It was not easy to take a site like this. This is Mt. Hartman Bay. We have the Grenada Dove Sanctuary, we have the Marine Protected Area, we have the mangroves over there. These are very important things that need to be guarded, safeguarded, looked after and managed,” Holmes said,
“All of these things meant there was a very, very, very rigorous process that we all went through to break ground here. We did a very, very thorough EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment). We went through a lot of effort, and planning with the (Ministries of) Environment, Tourism and Fisheries”, he added.
In welcoming the new investor, Prime Minister Mitchell said that his administration is already seeing “fiscal stability” and that “elements of growth” is beginning to show its head with initiatives from the private sector.
The Prime Minister recalled the several shady investors who failed to deliver on their promises during the earlier 1995 to 2008 period of rule of his former New National Party (NNP) regimes.
He said: “Many have come and promised all sort of things, Kelly came and he’s already doing thing. Kelly, you have shown you are a man of your words”.
Previous NNP government have been duped by investors such as E.J Miller who received a multi-million dollar guarantee from the administration to build a Ritz Carlton hotel at Mt. Hartman but took the money and disappeared from the country.
The island was also affected by North American investors who set up the First International Bank of Grenada (FIBG) and disappeared after stealing millions from the depositors.
Another investor, Viktor Kozeny, known as the Pirate of Prague promised to develop the Grenada Yacht Services (GYS) but reneged on the deal that was worked out with the blessings of a previous Mitchell Cabinet.
Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister, Alexandra Otway-Noel, sees the project as providing increased jobs for Grenadians, as well as an increase in visitors to the Spice Isle.
Former Prime Minister for St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sir James, known to be a close friend and ally of project Owner, Kelly Glass and friend of the Grenadian leader, congratulated the government in St. George’s on giving its support to the new marina initiative.
“This is a good project to go with”, said Sir James who like Dr. Mitchell is one of the few leaders in the Eastern Caribbean to enjoy a clean sweep of the polls against political opponents in general elections.
The former Vincentian leader said that Kelly has earned his reputation for his performance and capability to produce on things that he has undertaken since his arrival in St. Vincent 30 years ago.
“He (Kelly) will deliver, he can’t afford not to or let the people down in the execution of this project”, he added.
Sir Mitchell was adamant that despite the vast uniqueness of the Caribbean with its rich soil the fact of the matter is that the sea is one of the greatest resources to bring about development for the people.
Stating that, “people investing in the sea are not hungry people”, Sir James said that the Grenadian people are lucky due to the geographical location of the county, which is good for marina development.
Grenada’s yachting sub-sector is estimated to be a $130 Million dollar industry, employing more than 1000 persons.
An estimated 39 marine related businesses are scattered across the tri island state.