Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, Jamahl Simmons, today announced the appointment of William Spriggs, as the Director of Economic and Cooperative Development with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
Speaking at a news conference this morning, Mr Simmons said one of the new Director’s first priorities, as head of the new Economic and Cooperative Development Unit, will be to establish new and improved co-operatives in Bermuda.
Mr Spriggs noted that several discussions were held over the years “with numerous persons interested in member controlled social enterprises, as well as all sort of hybrid business structures”.
“We look forward to engaging with the public to get a real sense of how many people and businesses are interested in the co-operative structure,”
Public information sessions will be held in April and May to heighten public awareness and educate the public on how exactly co-operatives work and the benefits.
“One of our first goals is to create a co-operative economics research library, website, other information and outreach tool to be able to support and leverage our upcoming public forums.
“As we bring on other economic development tools, we will continue to engage with the public in a very open and responsive way. We have so much to be excited about,” he added.
While noting that Mr Spriggs “is no stranger to the BEDC and to the business and entrepreneurship landscape”, the Minister said the new Director has also “served in various leadership roles within the BEDC”.
His “broad experience in all three sectors of Bermuda’s economy”, Mr Simmons said will serve Bermuda well as Mr Spriggs “leverages existing and new partnerships and collaborations for the success of our island’s local businesses”.
As Director, Mr Spriggs is “tasked with the development and use of innovative economic development tools to foster local economic development growth in Bermuda”.
“In light of the many and diverse problems facing our community, it is time for us to begin to seriously think about and begin working towards economic development and economic self-determination,” said Mr Simmons.
“A key and necessary part of economic development and self-determination can be found in co-operative economics.”
Ultimately, he said co-operatives “are businesses owned and run by and for their members”.
“Whether the members are the customers, employees or residents, they have an equal say in what the business does and a share in the profits.”
In years gone by he said Friendly Societies formed after Emancipation, followed by the Ireland Island Cooperative Society and the Bermuda Workers Cooperative Society formed under the Bermuda Industrial Union in 1969.
“Yet for 21st Century co-operative economics to succeed in Bermuda and for Bermudians, we must set in place the framework for re-engagement with this innovative economic development tool.
“But we must also begin a change of mindset and a change of approach,” said the Minister.
Other economic tools to be developed include:
- Cooperative economic development agreements;
- Community reinvestment and redevelopments;
- Community development block grants;
- Business retention and expansion;
- Business development financing;
- Targeted sector funding schemes;
- Industry-focused incubators and accelerators;
- Economic empowerment zones;
- Other economic development tools as needed.