Ladies and gentlemen:
Good morning. Thank you Minister Lloyd for your kind introduction.
To all who have worked so hard to make this day happen, I extend my sincere gratitude on behalf of the people of The Bahamas, and on behalf of the generations of students who will reside in and utilize this complex.
Today’s groundbreaking ceremony has been a long time in the making.
The idea for a University Residence and Multipurpose Complex had its genesis long before UB was chartered in November 2016.
It was based on projected growth in enrolment at the institution.
The Oakes Field Campus is at the heart of several historic communities, which have played a vital role in the cultural, economic and political life of the country.
My government has been resolute in our determination to revitalize our Over-the-Hill communities, particularly through several innovative initiatives, including:
We are vigorously supporting small- and medium-sized businesses by providing them with the incentives and assistance needed to nurture the dreams and develop the skills and talents of Bahamian entrepreneurs.
The Small Business Development Centre plays a vital role in that regard.
We are also encouraging absentee landowners to re-develop their ancestral homes, properties and abandoned buildings.
We have created tax-free economic zones in these areas to encourage business growth and spur job-creation.
We are enacting legislation that allows for duty free concessions on all construction materials and building supplies used in the
construction of business premises and new and/or refurbished owner occupied homes.
Further, we are helping to develop these tax-free economic zones within a safe and clean environment with each zone addressing the socio-economic situation in the area, through tripartite arrangements with landlords, government agencies and Bahamian investors.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today, we break ground in Oakes Field for a project that is estimated at $95 million.
It is one of the single largest investments in an Over-the-Hill community ever in our history.
Given the particular vulnerabilities posed by severe weather produced by Hurricane Dorian, the project team modified the design to mitigate against potential wind damage and flooding.
Design and construction is based on climate change adaptation.
Building for resilience was a fundamental consideration.
Once completed, this University Residence and Multi-Purpose Complex will help to revitalize surrounding communities, injecting new vitality and providing opportunities for community engagement and business investments.
This mixed-use facility with LEED specifications will encompass:
- 1,000-bed capacity for student residents;
- 400 parking stalls;
- More than 50,000 square feet of commonareas including a fitness centre, study rooms, a 200-seat dining hall, a 500-seat ballroom and a spiritual life centre;
- A University Village for leased retail commercial and business operations, and
- Faculty residences.
I am advised by university officials that the University has entered into a public-private partnership for the new complex.
Providence Investment and Asset Campus International, an affiliate of the third-party student housing operator Asset Campus Housing, are designing, constructing and will operate this multi-purpose area.
The principals of the Bahamian-owned
Providence Investment and Development
Company Ltd. have advised that construction of Phase 1 is anticipated to be completed by June 2021, and Phase 2 is scheduled to be completed by November 2021.
The University’s endowment will grow annually, given that the land will be leased for $100,000 annually, plus twenty percent of the annual profit will go into the University’s endowment.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The progressive and sustainable
economic development of The Bahamas rests on the proper education and training of our people.
The University of The Bahamas plays a fundamental role in this regard.
Last August, my government fulfilled a pledge to increase tuition-free access to tertiary education for qualified Bahamians through the Government Tertiary Education Grant Programme.
To date, approximately 2,900 of almost 5,000 students enrolled at UB are benefitting from this program.
Of that number, 178 are receiving the additional $500 per month residential grant to help defray the cost of housing for qualified students who must relocate to attend UB.
I am advised that the University is
planning for steady growth in student
enrolment over the coming years guided by a recently approved strategic plan.
Many of those future Bahamian and international students will be residents of this University Residence.
An increase in student enrolment at UB means that the institution is positively impacting many more lives.
It also means that communities and businesses nearby will benefit from a more vibrant residential life, a residential life which will have to be supported by a variety of services and amenities, creating more opportunities for Bahamian businesses and entrepreneurs.
Once construction is completed, the University Residence and Multipurpose Complex will be a landmark in Oakes Field.
I am pleased to share in this day with you and I look forward to seeing this project come to fruition.
May God bless this new venture and may God bless The Bahamas.
Thank you and good morning.