Some of the attendees at the Discovery Day Mixer in Atlanta. Photo: Kenyon Missick, Protocol Officer
By Arthia Nixon
ATLANTA, USA -- A two hour event intended to provide professional Bahamians with the opportunity to be interviewed and considered for a job in the tourism sector, exceeded the expectations of Baha Mar human resources personnel and officers at The Bahamas Consulate Office in Atlanta.
The mega-development and the diplomatic arm were collaborators in a Discovery Day Mixer, which took place on October 11. The affair not only drew Bahamians from Georgia, but also saw citizens from Tennessee, Alabama, the Carolinas and Oklahoma make their way to Atlanta to take part in the mixer and to offer their expertise.
The direct approach was aimed at combating what many have deemed a ‘brain drain’ in The Bahamas, where many students opt to stay in the country where they receive their education, as opposed to returning home with their degrees to assist in the development of their nation of origin.
It was also designed to fill an estimated 8,000 positions at the $3.5 billion development when it opens in December 2014.
Thrilled with the outcome was Bahamas Consul General Randy Rolle, who was hands-on in organizing the event and insisted on greeting all or most of the attendees.
“It was excellently executed,” he remarked. “The staff in the office did an amazing job and I must commend them on their efforts. We were inundated with phone calls and emails from those within the ten states of our jurisdiction. Even at the actual mixer, we were thanked for getting the word out so that they would have enough time to plan their trip. They also said they appreciated the efforts of the office and Baha Mar in coming to Atlanta as a direct approach to show them what is being offered while providing them with the opportunity to network with other Bahamians in the area.”
Over 100 Bahamians had the opportunity to connect with Baha Mar associate Vonya Ifill and other representatives.
“We saw a wide range of candidates, some with hospitality experiences in Atlanta hotels and others who were in other industries but were willing to transition if we offered them an opportunity to work with us,” said Ifill. “Overall, the presentation definitely got them excited and they expressed gratitude with us coming to them to get to see them instead of having to email a resume` over. We’ve had similar mixers in Toronto, London, New York and we are also going throughout the Family Islands to seek potential employees.”
It was just last year that Ifill herself was a college graduate in Chicago who turned down a position in New York to return home as a part of team Baha Mar.
“I opted to go home and I have no regrets because I am a part of a multi-million movement that is about to make history,” she explained. “It’s a special feeling you get when you are a part of a team that is building something from the ground up.”
“Baha Mar, the largest single-phase resort development in the Western Hemisphere, has become a powerful driver of the Bahamian economy, and accounted for an estimated 5 percent of the Commonwealth’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011 and 2012, according to a comprehensive updated economic impact report (EIR) by Oxford Economics,” Ifill further explained. “The report shows that since 2005, Baha Mar has accounted for an average of 3.2 percent of the Bahamian economy. This accounts for a total of $2.1 billion between 2005 and 2012. Once the $3.5 billion integrated gaming resort is up and running, it is expected to account for 12.8 percent of Bahamian annual GDP on average. From 2005 to 2012, Baha Mar has generated $719 million in additional employment income. Through direct and indirect impacts, Baha Mar has supported an average employment count of more than 3,000 jobs on a full-time-equivalent (FTE) basis.”