Freeport Grand Bahama
Freeport is a 230-square mile free trade zone on Grand Bahama Island, established in 1955. Hawksbill Creek Agreement Act grants special powers to Grand Bahama Port Authority Limited to operate the free trade zone. That makes Freeport the only Free Zone in The Bahamas with huge tax advantages.
The Free Zone of Freeport
The economic heart of Grand Bahama Island is Freeport. Tourism and industry drive Freeport’s economy. GBPA and its sister company, Grand Bahama Development Company (DEVCO), is a joint venture between the Port Authority and Hutchison Whampoa. They have successfully attracted powerful investors to the Freeport Free Zone. In the Hawksbill Creek Agreement Act, businesses in the free trade zone do not pay taxes on profits, capital gains, inheritances, incomes, earnings, distributions, or exports.
A number of small boutique hotels in Freeport, including the intimate Pelican Bay Hotel, serve as the focal point of the tourism industry, which includes Hutchison’s 740-room Our Lucaya Resort and the smaller Lucaya Reef Resort, both of which offer two 18-hole golf courses, a casino and easy access to Port Lucaya Shopping Mall. Freeport is a popular vacation and second home destination. As of 2009, Freeport became home to The Bahamas’ first off-shore medical school when Ross University opened its first campus there. There is significant tourist development in West End, another community on Grand Bahama Island. An ocean-front secluded getaway, Old Bahama Bay offers a high-end secluded getaway just 64 miles off the coast of Florida. The hotel is being integrated into a multi-hotel, condominium and single family residential golfing and marina community.
A partnership between Grand Bahama Power Company and Emera Inc. and Marubeni TAQA Caribbean Ltd. is underway to upgrade equipment and introduce the latest digital technology with the goal of providing reliable, affordable power to the free trade zone, as well as for other residential and commercial areas. Since the 1960s, oil refining and storage, cement manufacturing, and pharmaceutical manufacturing have been located in Freeport. There is no oil refining today, but oil storage and transshipment have increased significantly. Pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of medical and dental implements, and manufacturers of Styrofoam continue to operate in the Port Area.
Containers, Transshipment and Ship repair
Grand Bahama’s strategic location at the gateway to the Americas encourages industrial development. There is no closer offshore port to the United States than Freeport, a 35-minute plane ride from southern Florida. In addition to being located at the crossroads of routes between Europe, North and South American trade links, and international shipping transiting the Panama Canal, the free trade zone is well positioned for global commerce. There are few harbours as large or deep as those in Freeport, a man-made harbour that is the deepest in the region as well as one of the world’s largest manmade harbours. Even the largest ocean going vessels can access it. The harbour is home to businesses such as wet docking and ship repair. Freeport Container Port is a major container transshipment hub connecting the Eastern Gulf Coasts of the United States, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, and trade lanes to Europe, the Mediterranean, Far Eastern and Australasian destinations. It is owned and operated by two major operators. Hutchison Port Holdings, the world’s leading port investor, developer, and operator and MSC, the biggest shipping company in the world.
Grand Bahama International Airport
Getting to Grand Bahama International Airport from South Florida takes just 25 minutes. The airport is one of the largest privately owned airports in the world and has state-of-the-art facilities, including an 11,000-foot runway that accommodates international jet aircraft daily. This full service terminal includes pre-clearance facilities for U.S. customs and immigration, as well as refueling and hub operations. Annually, more than 50,000 flights depart from Freeport’s airport. Among the airlines with regularly scheduled flights are American Airlines, US Airways, Gulf Stream/Continental, Delta, Spirit, and Bahamasair. There are direct or hub flights connecting Freeport with Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and New York.
Grand Bahama Sea/Air Business Centre
Within four miles of the airport are the harbour, container port, and sea/air business center. The 786-acre industrial park development is located in a tax-free trade zone and is ideal for warehousing, distribution, light manufacturing and assembly operations. No export, excise, real estate, or business taxes are imposed, nor are profits, capital gains, or income taxes.
Quality of Life
With more than 400 miles of excellent paved roads and miles of well-engineered waterways bordering private homes, Freeport is roughly the size of Singapore. It takes an average of 7 minutes to commute to work. Besides modern educational and health facilities, the area is also home to extensive leisure facilities, international sports, duty-free shopping, and cosmopolitan nightlife.
A Golf, tennis, squash racquets, soccer, rugby, cricket, horseback riding and polo, softball, baseball, volleyball, netball, darts, and bowling are also available. The most popular water sports are sailing, fishing, swimming, diving, waterskiing and windsurfing. In addition to a National Park, Grand Bahama is home to an extensive botanical garden – the Garden of the Groves. It is home to 36 varieties of wild orchids and more than 200 species of birds. As a well-planned, clean city, Freeport can support up to a quarter of a million people on its fresh water table.