Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Patrice Minors, today [Nov 1] revealed plans for the expansion of the North Hamilton Economic Empowerment Zone.
Minister Minors said, “It is a pleasure … to join the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation known as BEDC, to announce the Government’s intention to expand the boundary of the North East Hamilton Economic Empowerment Zone and the creation of three new EEZs to be known collectively as the Greater Pembroke EEZs.
“You would be aware that Economic Empowerment Zones (EEZs) are created as vehicles to assist those disadvantaged persons within the zones to achieve equal opportunity.
“As such, EEZs only exist for defined periods of time to allow the businesses and residents within those zones to reach established benchmarks. The EEZs established in Bermuda will exist for a period of 10 years.
Minister Minors continued: “Three additional EEZs have been established to include North West Hamilton, Middletown, and North Village.
“With over 130 businesses currently identified in these areas and the vast majority requiring some form of business assistance, advice, or support, the expanded EEZs will stretch from Happy Valley Road to the south to North Shore Road to the north and from Deepdale Road to the East to Woodland Road to the West.”
Minister Minors’ full statement follows below:
Good afternoon everyone.
It is a pleasure as the Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry to join the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation known as BEDC, to announce the Government’s intention to expand the boundary of the North East Hamilton Economic Empowerment Zone and the creation of three new EEZs to be known collectively as the Greater Pembroke EEZs.
You would be aware that Economic Empowerment Zones (EEZs) are created as vehicles to assist those disadvantaged persons within the zones to achieve equal opportunity – economically, socially and environmentally – and to make the transition to full participation in the economic mainstream.
As such, EEZs only exist for defined periods of time to allow the businesses and residents within those zones to reach established benchmarks. The EEZs established in Bermuda will exist for a period of 10 years.
Designation as an EEZ allows for a variety of incentives to be accessed by qualifying businesses that meet the criteria and show need. Determination is based on Business Plan projections and existing financials along with examination of Personal Financial Net Worth and abilities of the beneficial company owners.
Specific incentives include the BEDC EEZ; Small Business Grant of Technical Assistance and Advice, Small Business Loan of Working Capital, Customs Duty Deferment, and Payroll Tax Concession.
Currently there are three EEZs throughout Bermuda. North East Hamilton was designated first in 2007 followed by Somerset and St. George’s in 2011.
The current North East Hamilton EEZ is a twenty-five square block area located in the North East quadrant of the City of Hamilton. It spans some fifty-nine acres and is bounded by King Street to the East, Victoria Street to the South, Cedar Avenue to the West, and Pembroke Dump to the North.
In 2007 through the analysis work conducted in creating the land use plan for North East Hamilton, the Design Roundtable found similarities in the socio-economic and environmental profiles of the wider surrounding buffer areas.
This included the neighbourhoods stretching out to Montpelier Road in the east, Woodlands Road in the west and North Shore Road in the north (i.e. Middletown, Parsons Road, North Village, North West Hamilton).
The Design Roundtable raised concerns that upon legally establishing the NE Hamilton EEZ, those areas that fell outside of the EEZ boundary would immediately not be able to take advantage of any EEZ incentives and aid by virtue of the boundary. They noted that the businesses in the outlying areas had similar socio-economic and environmental issues that affected businesses in NE Hamilton.
To address this issue, the Round Table recommended a transition area be established around the NE Hamilton EEZ as an interim solution to provide synergy between what occurred inside and outside the zone, until further research could be undertaken with the potential to designate the transition zone and the surrounding areas as EEZs.
In mid to late 2011 and early 2012 the BEDC carried out extensive consultation with stakeholders of new and existing businesses in the areas surrounding North East Hamilton. The response was overwhelmingly positive for the creation of additional economic empowerment zones.
One hundred thirty-seven businesses were identified and surveyed. The research revealed that a sizeable portion of these businesses did not have a business plan; had not prepared current financial statements; and had accounts receivable over 4 months old.
The financial state of these businesses indicates room for improvement and areas where Government policies and programmes could assist noting that the types of services that business owners listed that they needed the most help with included: access to financing, duty relief and payroll tax concessions, and access to financial expertise.
Based on the success of the NE Hamilton EEZ in terms of stimulating entrepreneurs to either create new businesses or have existing businesses open new branches in the area and as a result of the intensive consultation and research conducted – the existing NE Hamilton EEZ has been extended to include areas surrounding North East Hamilton.
In addition, three additional EEZs have been established to include North West Hamilton, Middletown, and North Village. With over 130 businesses currently identified in these areas and the vast majority requiring some form of business assistance, advice, or support, the expanded EEZs will stretch from Happy Valley Road to the south to North Shore Road to the north and from Deepdale Road to the East to Woodland Road to the West.
There will be four distinct zones in close proximity to one another, representative of the distinct issues and opportunities in each neighbourhood. Collectively these four EEZs will be known as the Greater Pembroke EEZs which can be seen here on this aerial view map.
With a commitment to a 10 year EEZ designation, all designated EEZs will be evaluated at the halfway period. For NE Hamilton this period will be in April 2013. Criteria for evaluations will include levels of growth revenues, profits, debt and age of payables and receivables compared to local “mainstream” businesses along with residential population economic indicators.
On behalf of this Ministry, I would like to thank the BEDC Executive Director, Ms. Michelle Khaldun and EEZA Director, Mrs. Erica Smith for all their efforts towards making the designation of EEZs a reality.
In addition I thank the dedicated research team that assisted them with gathering the data that formed the basis of the programs and incentives that exist today.
We know from research that the designation of the EEZs was necessary in order to ensure fairness and opportunities for Bermudians. Through the EEZs this Government intends to continue to stand up for Bermudians by identifying and solving problems.
Today exemplifies the sure and steady progress that is being made to even the economic playing field amongst all businesses in Bermuda.
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