POINT BLANCHE, Sint Maarten - Port St. Maarten officials as well as Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Ted Richardson attended a presentation that took place at the Mr. K. Cigar Lounge in Sucker Garden given by Dr. Simon B. Jones Hendrickson in connection with the 12th Annual St. Martin Book Fair.
The theme of the presentation was ‘Another Initiative to Raise the Bar.’
Dr. Jones-Hendrickson is a Dean at the University of the Virgin Islands of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences. He is also an advisor to the Prime Minister of the Federation St. Kitts and Nevis Hon. Dr. Denzel Douglas.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Port St. Maarten Mark Mingo was very pleased with the presentation and says that these eye opening sessions are very much needed for organizations such as the harbour group, and many other big companies on the island, in order for country St. Maarten to continue to lead as a small island developing nation.
Mingo added that he would like to commend the organizers of St. Martin Book Fair for taking the initiative and organizing such a presentation, as the points brought forward by Dr. Hendrickson are very much relevant to the development of country St. Maarten.
Dr. Hendrickson’s, key note address was on economic opportunities for small island territories and states; survivability of small island states and territories in the Caribbean; life after debt, and more.
In his address, he cautioned the attendees to remove from the mind that we now need to start to think outside of a box in terms of generating new business for the economy and sustainability of our islands existence. Small islands must stop believing that because we are small we need to think small, and went on to advise that we ought to believe that there is never a box, because by believing that there is a box we confine our way of thinking, and limit our abilities to expand, grow and progress beyond our measure. He termed this being multifocal rather than mono-focal.
After this thought provoking presentation, Port St. Maarten CEO Mark Mingo posed a question, ‘Being the CEO of the Harbour Group of Companies, there are always much discourse if Government owned companies such as the Harbour "can/should" compete with monopolies on the island, or in the broader sense, if public sector and private sector are allowed to compete with one another.’
This brought much discussion within the crowd, and Dr. Jones- Hendrickson answered by saying that in the broaden scheme of things, there should be no clause or push back if Government entities wishes to pursue other revenue streams, as this if managed correctly will in no doubt benefit the people of St. Maarten via returns to government.
Government equates to the people, if Government companies are successful the community at large should benefit from this success, and this is simple economics from his perspective.
Dr. Hendrickson pointed out the example of St. Kitts & Nevis citizen by investment program which gives back much relief towards the St. Kitts & Nevis communities in terms of lower energy bills, scholarships etc.
Another point brought forward by Dr. Jones-Hendrickson was that the Caribbean in general should start lobbying more with China and build a relationship.
The crowd generally agreed with his notion, and Harbour Group CEO Mark Mingo also supported it by saying he too realized the need for this from a cruise-crew-passenger perspective, and have already made plans in the future to capitalize on the Chinese market.
“Port St. Maarten has already embarked on a plan to hire persons who can speak Chinese (mandarin speaking) to work at the Harbour Group of Companies. We understand the trends and developments, and in order for the country to continue to reap the benefits, we need to be and have to be proactive in whatever we do. One Chinese local has already been hired working as a front line employee handling cruise passengers via the information desk,” Mingo stated on Sunday.
During the closing of the St. Martin Book Fair event that was held last week Wednesday, Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Hon Ted Richardson in closing remarks, stated that St. Maarten in the past made great strides without even having a firm official plan, and never regarded itself as being small.
Minister Richardson added that St. Maarten now can be considered the leading island within the Caribbean in its own right, and that must be respected. And in order to continue to raise the bar and stay up, a vision incorporating a long term plan must be key for continued sustainability and true progress.
Minister Hon. Ted Richardson thanked Dr. Simon-Hendrickson and organizing team Mr. K. Cigar Lounge and Marcel Gumbs for once again initiating to raise the bar.