THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29: The public will be aware that today Citigroup (Citi Hedge Fund Services) announced the loss of 100 jobs, while Willowbank Hotel announced it will close in November, resulting in the loss of over 45 jobs.

In response to today's news the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Sen. the Hon. Kim N. Wilson, JP, issued the following.

Minister Wilson said, "The reality of the harsh economic climate cannot be ignored. The fact is that the economic challenges that we are facing as a Country are indiscriminate.

"It is being felt across all sectors of our community, and as Minister responsible for labour and economic matters, I want assure the community that I remain steadfast and committed to seeking and implementing solutions which we are optimistic will stimulate an economic turn around."

Specifically addressing the Willowbank closure, Minister Wilson said, "I too like the rest of Bermuda was quite saddened to learn about the closure of Willow Bank. This is one of the Island's long standing tourism icons, and I'm sure this was not an easy decision for the management of the hotel to make. Willow Bank has been a wonderful tourism ambassador on behalf of Bermuda, servicing tens of thousands of guests over the past five decades.

"Without question, our priority of concern is for the local members of staff who have been made redundant, as I'm certain this must be a terribly distressing time for them.

"I can confirm that the Department of Labour and Training is liaising with the management of Willowbank and Citigroup to lend its assistance, and we will do whatever we can that is within our resources to assist."

In the meantime, the Minister reminded that next Thursday she will join other local businesses in hosting a special forum called ‘The Great Debate: You and the Economy’.

And she encouraged as many members of the public to come and engage in a national discussion regarding the current economic climate.

Minister Wilson said, "In light of today's job loss announcements, we see this forum as incredibly timely.

"This event is a first of its kind and we see it as an innovative way of involving the public to address our challenges.

"While the main thrust of this event will be a discussion about our economy as it relates to the value of foreign revenue and the steps Bermuda must take to retain and grow its earnings, we are also keen to create an atmosphere of understanding, cooperation and partnership with all stakeholders to change the mind set of what we face as a community."

At next week's forum Minister Wilson will hold discussions with individuals who are unemployed specifically to hear their concerns regarding their job search efforts.

Minister Wilson concluded, "We clearly see this as a national issue which can only be tackled collectively."