FRIDAY, JULY 13: In the April issue of EEZy Does It! we discussed the “perfect storm” that St George’s and the east end currently finds itself in, but we hopefully also left you with thoughts of optimism for the future of the St. George’s Economic Empowerment Zone (SGEEZ).
While nationally the dialogue has been for some time about the economic woes of the east end, on the ground the reality is slightly different.
It is amazing — right now if you visit the Olde Towne of St George any weekday between 10 am and 4 pm and you will see activity, activity, activity.
From visiting yachtsmen parked up alongside the docks, to cruise ship passengers coming and going by ferry from Dockyard, to locals milling around desiring to experience shopping and services without the overbearing hustle and bustle of Hamilton.
Right now St George’ is alive with activity.
However the challenge that constantly confronts business owners, residents, and policymakers is how do we sustain the current activity?
How can we leverage it so that the economic benefits that befall the east during the spring and summer can stretch out over winter and fall?
It would be wonderful to have all the answers at the snap of a finger; however, it takes more than magic to ensure success. The Economic Empowerment Zones Agency (EEZA) through the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) is working tirelessly with stakeholders and entrepreneurs in the east end to make key connections for the Town, to facilitate where others can’t, to remove the blockages that prevent success, and to match entrepreneurial opportunities and gaps with those who can fill those gaps.
As part of the work being done to make the right connections, the SGEEZ also provides a variety of aids and incentives to assist businesses, including our core loan guarantee programme.
The combined efforts of the SGEEZ and St George’s stakeholders are keys to the successful regeneration of vibrant and thriving commerce in St George’s.
Most recently, two new retail stores opened adding diversity and variety for both east end residents and visitors.
Last Night (a lingerie boutique) and The Cave (a menswear boutique) opened next door to each other on Duke of York Street and have been creating a buzz ever since.
The Indoor Market which houses five new businesses in a collective opened on Water Street a few weeks ago. Providing a range of products including candies, baked goods, jewellery and clothing, the Indoor Market enhances the consumer’s experience of vendor markets.
When the Olde Towne Market is operating on Saturdays it provides another retail choice and when the market is not in operation during the week, the Indoor Market is still open.
Surprise! is a scrapbooking store that opened a few months ago and provides a noticeable presence on the Town Square and contributes to the growing arts and crafts marketplace in the east end.
Likewise Triton Tattoo on Water Street opened about two months ago and has found a niche market through providing an alternative art form in a traditional historic setting. The Tattoo shop also doubles as an Art Gallery showcasing unique works from local artists.
More and more entrepreneurs are looking to St George’s and the east end as a viable place to establish a business.
For example GoJo’s Coffee Shop on the Town Square and Tamasun’s Japanese Restaurant at the highly visible junction of York and Kent Streets are both actively preparing for their openings over the next month and many consumers are waiting in anticipation.
The fantastic thing about these new businesses is that they are providing services and products that do not just cater to the visitor market — they serve locals too.
It is encouraging seeing that many business owners in St George’s are capitalising on the untapped local market and creating business models that will allow them to serve a thriving local population as well as the visiting tourists.
The SGEEZ recognises that this approach can help to ensure the success of more businesses and we encourage others to consider providing products and/or services that can cater to the local community.
There is visible regeneration occurring amongst St. Georgians themselves as they strive to change the dynamics of their local economy.
More east end opportunities await those entrepreneurs willing to take the risk and more east end surprises await those consumers who are willing to try something a little different.
We invite you to experience the new activity in St. George’s for yourself and contribute to the change that is taking place.
For further details and additional information on the SGEEZ contact the EEZA at 292-5570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Erica Smith is director of the Economic Empowerment Zones.