Crystal Clear Kayaks and Surf SUP started this year with some fanfare drawing rave reviews for both tourists and locals alike. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Crystal Clear Kayaks and Surf SUP started this year with some fanfare drawing rave reviews for both tourists and locals alike. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

Maybe they don’t have a big red S on their chests, but the three Economic Empowerment Zones has to some some small businesses been a superhero.

The EEZ’s serve as a branch of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.

The organization has fostered success story after success story thanks to the advice it gives the loan guarantees to help get businesses off the ground. 

Here is a bit on who they are, what they do and what areas they cover. More coverage on the EEZ next week.


Where are the EEZs?

The 2005 Throne Speech mentioned that Government would establish an Economic Empowerment Zone for Northeast Hamilton in 2005. It took two years, but it came into fruition in 2007.

Erica Smith, EEZ executive director, told the Bermuda Sun “Government wanted to try and address some of the economic inequalities that were seen in Northeast Hamilton.”

She said The City of Hamilton Plan had already identified Northeast Hamilton “needed to have additional attention, resources and advocacy”.

Ms Smith said The NE Hamilton EEZ is approximately 25 blocks and 50 acres. It general terms it runs from Victoria Street to the south, King Street to the east cutting through Jubilee Park and Pembroke Canal to the north and Cedar Avenue to the west.

Since then, the EEZ has expanded by adding zones in Somerset and St George’s.

Ms Smith said: “There was some lobbying that there was some additional attention given to those areas. St George’s because it didn’t have a dedicated cruise ship and no major hotel, plus there was a shift to the west end of the island which resulted in some economic hardship to those businesses.”

The end result was an EEZ for St George’s and St George’s Island, which is about 300 acres of land.

Somerset

“For Somerset… because there was an emphasis put on Dockyard, Somerset Village was neglected. It had been an economic hub in its heyday, but as a result of the focus on Dockyard, it transitioned to become a throughway to Dockyard rather than as a destination unto itself.”

The Somerset EEZ is about 300 acres and approximately runs from Willowbank to Watford Bridge. It primarily covers along the main road but also takes in major areas like 9 Beaches, Cambridge Beaches and Sandys 360.


 

 St George’s isn’t a ghost town

The way some people would describe St George, you’d half expect a tumbleweed lazily careening down York Street.

But there’s a lot more happening at the east end than people would expect.

Ray Lambert, St George’s Economic Empowerment Zone officer, told the Bermuda Sun There are a number of developments on tap.

“I’ve only been here a year and we’ve seen roughly 20 businesses open up.

“We’re seeing a changing of the guard. A lot of the businesses have folded up or retired but there’s a whole new generation of young business people who are hungry and looking for opportunities.

“We’re finding that the arts there is a particular attraction with the old buildings and the streets of St George.”

He added many people in the arts community are clamouring for the type of atmosphere that St George provides. Mr Lambert said the EEZ supports the Art walk and the Old Towne Market.

“David Rose, is a couple, who own a jewellery store. They could easily be in town if they wanted to. They see St George’s as a developing location. They are doing very well in forging a niche in high-end jewellery.””

Mr Lambert also pointed to interior designer Gregory Nelmes as another who has been successful. “He could have been in Hamilton but Greg has embraced the whole live and work in St George’s experience. He not only moved his business to St George’s but he now lives here too. Those are two good examples but there are many others.”


 

Making the most of the 9 Beaches area

One of the areas that the Somerset EEZ has worked with this year with some success is at the former 9 Beaches resort. Crystal Clear Kayaks and Surf SUP started this year with some fanfare drawing rave reviews for both tourists and locals alike.

Erica Smith said: “We’ve worked pretty closely with those businesses. We see definite opportunities with 9 Beaches. It’s a beautiful asset; Its just a shame that it’s laying there underutilized.

“Until the long-term, grander plan comes into reality, we are working with smaller businesses to see how that can be used in the interim. We’ve been working with Crystal Clear Kayaks and a number of other businesses in that particular area.”


 

Technical advice

While many people seek out the EEZ for financial guidance, it also provides many entrepreneurs help in other ways as well.

Here are a few more ways:

• Developing a business plan

• Developing a marketing strategy

• Looking over leases

• Managing cash flow

• Helping with staffing issues and policies

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