WOMEN IN GREEN—South Carolina financier Darla Moore and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will become the first women in green jackets when the Augusta National Golf Club opens for a new season in October. (AP Photos/File) by Doug FergusonAP Golf Writer NEW YORK (AP)—For the first time in its 80-year history, Augusta National Golf Club has female members.The home of the Masters, under increasing criticism the last decade because of its all-male membership, invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first women in green jackets when the club opens for a new season in October. Both women accepted.“This is a joyous occasion,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said Monday.The move likely ends a debate that intensified in 2002 when Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations urged the club to include women among its members. Former club chairman Hootie Johnson stood his ground, even at the cost of losing Masters television sponsors for two years, when he famously said Augusta National might one day have a woman in a green jacket, “but not at the point of a bayonet.”The comment took on a life of its own, becoming either a slogan of the club’s resolve not to give in to public pressure or a sign of its sexism, depending on which side of the debate was interpreting it.Payne, who took over as chairman in 2006 when Johnson retired, said consideration for new members is deliberate and private, and that Rice and Moore were not treated differently from other new members. Even so, he took the rare step of announcing two of the latest members to join because of the historical significance.“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” Payne said in a statement. “It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall. This is a significant and positive time in our club’s history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family.”Tiger Woods, who knows Rice through a mutual connection to Stanford, applauded the move.“I think the decision by the Augusta National membership is important to golf,” Woods said. “The Club continues to demonstrate its commitment to impacting the game in positive ways. I would like to congratulate both new members, especially my friend Condi Rice.”Augusta National, which opened in December 1932 and did not have a Black member until 1990, is believed to have about 300 members. While the club until now had no female members, women were allowed to play the golf course as guests.Rice, 57, was the national security adviser under former President George W. Bush and became secretary of state in his second term. The first Black woman to be a Stanford provost in 1993, she now is a professor of political economy at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.“I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity,” Rice said in a statement released by the club. “I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf. I also have an immense respect for the Masters Tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world.”Rice recently was appointed to the U.S. Golf Association’s nominating committee.Moore, 58, first rose to prominence in the 1980s with Chemical Bank, where she became the highest-paid woman in the banking industry. She is vice president of Rainwater, Inc., a private investment company founded by her husband, Richard Rainwater. She was the first woman to be profiled on the cover of Fortune Magazine, and she made a $25 million contribution to her alma mater, South Carolina, which renamed its business school after her.Johnson regarded the membership debate as infringing on the rights of a private club, even though every April it hosts the Masters, the most popular of the four major championships, which brings in millions of dollars through television rights for the highest-rated telecast in golf.
Some scientists are claiming that when the Isthmus of Panama was formed, an extinction event occurred two million years later. The story is reported on EurekAlert: “We may be way off-track when we search for the causes of extinctions by looking only at the time the extinctions occur in the fossil record, which is what paleontologists normally do,” said Aaron O’Dea, postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “In our case, we see that most coral and snail species died off a good 2 million years after the environmental change that caused their demise.”Yet the next sentence says they don’t know why the extinction was delayed for such a long time. Another finds this puzzling:”We don’t start seeing extinction rates really increasing for another 1 million years,” [Ken] Jackson [London Natural History Museum] said. “What is most remarkable is that most of the organisms that went extinct were those that liked high productivity environments, which had already disappeared for some time. Why did it take so long for them to perish? What tipped the scales?”The lesson preached from this press release is that our actions today may have consequences millions of years into the future. But then, how would we ever know, and who would care?You mean, they actually believe this? They separate a cause from an effect by two million years? Yes, they do believe it. The dating method is never to be questioned, even when it leads to absurdities. The reason is that it provides an opportunity for them to get on their environmental soap box and make humans feel guilty for something. Then, why not be thankful for the Panama Canal, which re-joined the oceans? Won’t that help undo the damage two million years from now? It’s amazing what you can claim given unlimited time. I’m going to clap my hands, and predict that two million years from now, there will be a tsunami. Prove me wrong.(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
19 January 2011International credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings has revised South Africa’s outlook from negative to stable, citing improved economic growth prospects, increased spending in key areas by companies like Eskom and Transnet, and a narrowing current account deficit.At the same time, the agency has affirmed South Africa’s long-term foreign currency issuer default ratings (IDR) at “BBB+”, its long-term local IDR at “A”, and its short-term foreign currency IDR at “F2”. The agency has also affirmed the country ceiling at “A”.“South Africa’s post-global crisis adjustment process has been smoother than originally thought, and the economy is emerging from the global recession with its credit fundamentals roughly in line with or slightly better than rated peers,” Fitch Sovereign Group director Veronica Kalema said in a statement this week.After falling to 1.7% in 2009, Fitch expects South Africa’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth to have recovered to 2.8% in 2010 – a slightly faster recovery than originally projected by the government – while medium-term budget deficits and debt ratios have also been revised downwards.Eskom investment ‘critical’Spending by key state-owned infrastructure companies Eskom and Transnet will continue to provide a stimulus to the economy, Fitch says, adding that the ability of local capital markets to finance wider deficits with relative ease emphasises a key rating strength of South Africa.The public debt ratio is projected to stabilise at 41% of GDP in the 2012/13 financial year, in line with the median for the “BBB” category.Due to lower-than-requested tariff increases sanctioned by the country’s utility regulator, the government increased the Eskom guarantee facility to R350-billion (13.4% of 2010 GDP) from R176-billion.Fitch estimates the debt of the broader public sector to reach just below 60% of GDP in 2013/14 as the guarantee is drawn down.“The facility is chiefly to enable the company to borrow at reduced cost to complete two major power stations,” Fitch said. “The risk of the government being called to pay out on Eskom’s guarantee facility is, in Fitch’s opinion, fairly low.“Investment by Eskom is critical to easing structural constraints on higher growth potential and is positive for creditworthiness.”Monetary policy supporting recoveryAccording to Fitch, monetary policy is supporting South Africa’s economic recovery – following a significant fall in inflation to close to the lower band of the inflation target owing to a strong currency and lower global inflation, interest rates in this economic cycle have been cut by 650 basis points to 5.5%.Imbalances in the country’s economy continue to improve, as the current account deficit narrowed to around 4% of GDP in 2009, and is expected by Fitch to remain around this level for 2010.South Africas deficit has been more than covered by strong portfolio inflows – mainly equities in 2009 and then debt in 2010 – owing to strong emerging-market investor sentiment. Consequently, the currency has strengthened since March 2009.Fitch adds that portfolio debt inflows during 2010 came increasingly from pension funds, and so should be less volatile in the event of a reversal in emerging-markets investor sentiment.“Under the New Growth Path, the government is taking a new approach by involving dialogue with all major stakeholders to collectively address the challenge of high youth unemployment and raise growth,” Fitch said. “Success in this area will be important for the ratings.“Structural issues in the areas of energy and transport infrastructure and labour markets continue to weigh on the ratings and, if not successfully addressed, will be become more negative for the ratings over time.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Animal Agriculture Alliance is pleased to announce the promotion of Hannah Thompson-Weeman to vice president of communications, effective January 1, 2017. In this position, Hannah will assume a greater management role over the communications outreach strategies for the Alliance, as well as the Alliance’s issues management initiatives and other program efforts.Thompson-Weeman joined the Alliance in December 2014 as director of communications and quickly took on the challenge of overseeing the Alliance’s media and communications efforts, including writing blogs for numerous trade publications, along with engaging members through committees and speaking at numerous stakeholder conferences. In the past year, she has taken on several additional responsibilities, including overseeing our year-round intern program, leading our Issues Management and Supply Channel Committees and planning for the Stakeholders Summit, among other things.“Given the primary role of the Alliance centers on communications, Hannah has mastered the art of coordinating broader stakeholder input to provide a unified voice for animal agriculture,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “Hannah is an excellent spokesperson, having conducted hundreds of print, radio and television interviews, and is a sought-after speaker for both media and conference events. We are very fortunate to have such a passionate and smart voice for animal agriculture.”Prior to joining the Alliance, Thompson-Weeman was a Marketing Specialist with Farm Credit Mid-America and held various roles with media and public relations firms while completing her education. She has an M.S. degree in agricultural and extension education and a B.S. in agricultural communication, both from The Ohio State University. She also interned with Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net.
Overlay“Multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the base color. Patterns or colors overlay the existing pixels while preserving the highlights and shadows of the base color. The base color is not replaced, but mixed with the blend color to reflect the lightness or darkness of the original color. ”Soft Light“Darkens or lightens the colors, depending on the blend color. The effect is similar to shining a diffused spotlight on the image. If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened as if it were dodged. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened as if it were burned in. Painting with pure black or white produces a distinctly darker or lighter area, but does not result in pure black or white.”Hard Light“Multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the blend color. The effect is similar to shining a harsh spotlight on the image. If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened, as if it were screened. This is useful for adding highlights to an image. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened, as if it were multiplied. This is useful for adding shadows to an image. Painting with pure black or white results in pure black or white.”Vivid Light“Burns or dodges the colors by increasing or decreasing the contrast, depending on the blend color. If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened by decreasing the contrast. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened by increasing the contrast. ”Linear Light“Burns or dodges the colors by decreasing or increasing the brightness, depending on the blend color. If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, the image is lightened by increasing the brightness. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, the image is darkened by decreasing the brightness.”Pin Light“Replaces the colors, depending on the blend color. If the blend color (light source) is lighter than 50% gray, pixels darker than the blend color are replaced, and pixels lighter than the blend color do not change. If the blend color is darker than 50% gray, pixels lighter than the blend color are replaced, and pixels darker than the blend color do not change. This is useful for adding special effects to an image.”Hard Mix“Adds the red, green, and blue channel values of the blend color to the RGB values of the base color. If the resulting sum for a channel is 255 or greater, it receives a value of 255; if less than 255, a value of 0. Therefore, all blended pixels have red, green, and blue channel values of either 0 or 255. This changes all pixels to primary additive colors (red, green, or blue), white, or black.”Difference Category“These blend modes create colors based on the differences between the values of the source color and the underlying color. ”Simply put, these modes will create colors not found in the original images based on the color information of each layer.Image via Adobe.Difference“Looks at the color information in each channel and subtracts either the blend color from the base color or the base color from the blend color, depending on which has the greater brightness value. Blending with white inverts the base color values; blending with black produces no change.”Exclusion“Creates an effect similar to but lower in contrast than the Difference mode. Blending with white inverts the base color values. Blending with black produces no change.”Subtract“Looks at the color information in each channel and subtracts the blend color from the base color. In 8- and 16-bit images, any resulting negative values are clipped to zero.”Divide“Looks at the color information in each channel and divides the blend color from the base color.”HSL Category“These blend modes transfer one or more of the components of the HSL representation of color (hue, saturation, and luminosity) from the underlying color to the result color.”The HSL category is the easiest to understand (for me). It simply transfers the selected value (Hue, Saturation, Color, or Luminance) from the Underlying layer to the result image.Image via Adobe. Lighten“Looks at the color information in each channel and selects the base or blend color — whichever is lighter — as the result color. Pixels darker than the blend color are replaced, and pixels lighter than the blend color do not change.”Screen“Looks at each channel’s color information and multiplies the inverse of the blend and base colors. The result color is always a lighter color. Screening with black leaves the color unchanged. Screening with white produces white. The effect is similar to projecting multiple photographic slides on top of each other.”Color Dodge“Looks at the color information in each channel and brightens the base color to reflect the blend color by decreasing contrast between the two. Blending with black produces no change.”Linear dodge (add)“Looks at the color information in each channel and brightens the base color to reflect the blend color by increasing the brightness. Blending with black produces no change.”Lighter color“Compares the total of all channel values for the blend and base color and displays the higher value color. Lighter Color does not produce a third color, which can result from the Lighten blend, because it chooses the highest channel values from both the base and blend color to create the result color.”Complex Category“These blend modes perform different operations on the source and underlying colors depending on whether one of the colors is lighter than 50% gray.”The Complex blend group will have varying results depending on the footage you feed it. It uses the gray information to decide which of the layers to output to result.Image via Adobe. Normal Category“The result color of a pixel is not affected by the color of the underlying pixel unless opacity is less than 100% for the source layer.”Essentially, the normal blending modes apply the source color to the underlying color — or you are blending the image and color of your top video over your bottom one.Image via Adobe.Normal“The result color is the source color. This mode ignores the underlying color. Normal is the default mode.”Dissolve“The result color for each pixel is either the source color or the underlying color. The probability that the result color is the source color depends on the opacity of the source. If the opacity of the source is 100%, then the result color is the source color. If opacity of the source is 0%, then the result color is the underlying color.”Subtractive Category“These blend modes tend to darken colors, some by mixing colors in much the same way as mixing colored pigments in paint.”The Subtractive category takes into account the luminosity values and color information of both Source and Underlying layers when selecting output color values for the result color. This will usually result in a net darkening of the result image.Image via Adobe.Darken“Looks at the color information in each channel and selects the base or blend color — whichever is darker — as the result color. Pixels lighter than the blend color are replaced, and pixels darker than the blend color do not change.”Multiply“Looks at the color information in each channel and multiplies the base color by the blend color. The result color is always a darker color. Multiplying any color with black produces black. Multiplying any color with white leaves the color unchanged. When you’re painting with a color other than black or white, successive strokes with a painting tool produce progressively darker colors. The effect is similar to drawing on the image with multiple marking pens.”Color Burn“Looks at the color information in each channel and darkens the base color to reflect the blend color by increasing the contrast between the two. Blending with white produces no change.”Linear Burn“Looks at the color information in each channel and darkens the base color to reflect the blend color by decreasing the brightness. Blending with white produces no change.”Darker Color“Compares the total of all channel values for the blend and base color and displays the lower value color. Darker Color does not produce a third color, which can result from the Darken blend, because it chooses the lowest channel values from both the base and the blend color to create the result color.”Additive Category“These blend modes tend to lighten colors, some by mixing colors in much the same way as mixing projected light.”Essentially, these blend modes compare luminosity values and use the values to determine which layer’s information to output. This will usually result in a net lightening of the result image.Image via Adobe. Opacity blend modes are among the most mysterious features in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. So, what do they actually do, and why are they in those groups?In this article, we’re to look at just what, exactly, each blend mode does. I’ll quickly take you through each category and each mode, and I’ll give you the best info I can find on each.I am summarizing information found in two Adobe guides: one on Blend Modes in Photoshop and the other about Using them in Premiere. I am excluding all blend options not available in Premiere.Before we start, Adobe uses the following naming conventions to describe the individual layers, as well as the opacity operation itself. I’ll use the same lingo.The source color is the color of the layer to which the blend mode is applied.The underlying color is the color of the composited layers below the source layer in the Timeline panel.The result color is the output of the blending operation — the color of the composite.The blend mode menu is subdivided by white lines into six distinct groups. These groups are as follows:Normal.Subtractive.Additive.Complex.Difference.HSL. Hue“Creates a result color with the luminance and saturation of the base color and the hue of the blend color. ”Saturation“Creates a result color with the luminance and hue of the base color and the saturation of the blend color. Painting with this mode in an area with no (0) saturation (gray) causes no change. ”Color“Creates a result color with the luminance of the base color and the hue and saturation of the blend color. This preserves the gray levels in the image and is useful for coloring monochrome images and for tinting color images.”Luminosity“Creates a result color with the hue and saturation of the base color and the luminance of the blend color. This mode creates the inverse effect of Color mode.”It is important to know what each blending mode is doing to your footage in order to select the best one, but always remember that each mode will interact differently with each clip you use — always play around with a few before selecting one.Looking for more Premiere Pro tips? Check these out.15 FREE Lower Thirds for Your Next Project in Premiere ProHow to Export a 90-Minute Feature Film in Premiere ProThe Many Different Ways to Use the Crop Effect in Premiere ProHow to Export Illustrator Icons to Use in After Effects and Premiere ProHow to Use the Free GoPro VR Effects in Premiere Pro
Bangladesh’s Khisa Pushkor (L) and India’s Singh Dharamvir fight for the ball during their men’s hockey match at 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, Wednesday, November 17, 2010.The Indian men’s hockey team on Wednesday thrashed Bangladesh 9-0, scoring its second successive win in the Asian Games at Guangzhou. Tushar Khandekar opened the floodgates for India, helping the team score three goals in the first half. In the second half, Bangladesh found the Indian attack unstoppable, suffering six more goals. Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh scored four of the nine goals. With this comprehensive win, India are now at the top of pool B, having beaten Hong Kong 7-1 in their first outing. India’s Asiad campaign follows their silver medal finish at the Commonwealth Games last month – a podium finish for the first time in the history of the Games.
The Jamaica Manufacturer’s Association (JMA) is partnering with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), in a pilot project aimed at reducing the levels of discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS who work in the local food services industry. An agreement for the project was recently signed and 15companies will be on board. They will participate in workshops and the training of personnel, as well as post notices against discrimination in their manufacturing entities and food outlets. Director of Occupational Safety and Health in the Labour Ministry, Robert Chung explains that the project seeks to help members of the public understand that they will not be endangered by eating food prepared or served by a person who is HIV positive. He points out that the food industry is particularly susceptible to discrimination as, “one incident or suspected incident of HIV/AIDS can close that establishment.” Mr. Chung says the Ministry is also promoting the highest standards of hygienic preparation of food and so the participating establishments will be getting its highest stamp of approval. He adds that by participating in the project, the companies are acknowledging that HIV cannot be transmitted through food and so they will not stigmatize and discriminate against anyone who has the disease. The collaboration between the JMA and the Ministry is part of ongoing efforts at the national level for HIV/AIDS reduction and prevention through a rights-based approach. Clearing up myths Mr Chung hails the initiative as being a significant step towards debunking the myths surrounding HIV/AIDS. “We are promoting the food preparation industry in Jamaica to show that we are competitive in international standards; that we are using the highest standards of hygiene and hygienic preparations to serve food in Jamaica,” he states. The pilot project which runs for six months, covers subject areas such as: information and public relations; education and training; ten key principles of the International Labour Organisation in dealing with people with HIV and AIDS; and educating the public about HIV/AIDS. . “This is a unique project and the whole world is looking at us to see how it will work. We will be able to promulgate this right through the region and secondly maybe throughout the world,” the Director says. For her part, Business Development and Projects Manager at the JMA, Camisha Turner says since HIV/AIDS impacts significantly on labour, productivity and profitability, the JMA and its membership welcome the opportunity to communicate a positive message to the public. “We know that HIV/AIDS cannot be passed on in the preparation of food and as the (Jamaica) Manufacturing Association, we want to help the Ministry of Labour and likewise the Ministry of Health to reduce this level of stigmatization,” Miss Turner says. “We are hoping that through this project many Jamaicans, particularly those that go into food entities especially the restaurants, will see the information and be able to know that HIV/AIDS is not passed on this way. So we are hoping that it will have a great impact in lowering the stigma and discrimination,” she states. The White Paper on the National Workplace Policy on HIV and AIDS was recently tabled in the Houses of Parliament. The policy is a framework for action by the Government, employers, and workers to deal effectively with HIV/AIDS in places of employment. It is based on the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) principles on HIV/AIDS in the workplace. It takes into consideration, the effects of HIV and AIDS on the most productive segment of the workforce (persons 15 to 49 years old), and acknowledges that effective prevention and management of the epidemic in and through the workplace, will benefit all national stakeholders. In Jamaica, 15,289 persons were reported with AIDS between January 1982 and December 2010, representing a male/female ratio of 1.3:1. About 32,000 men and women or 1.7 per cent are estimated to be living with HIV. For further information on the pilot project persons may call the Ministry of Labour and Social Security at 922-9500-14 or the Jamaica Manufactures’ Association at 922-8880.
The Vince Young era in Buffalo proved to be short-lived following the arrival of Tarvaris Jackson from Seattle.In a Monday morning tweet, Young thanked Bills fans in what was an apparent signal that he had been cut by the club.“I want to thank the Bills organization for the opportunity,” he wrote, “and wish the organization and my teammates good luck this season.”The Bills confirmed the move on Monday afternoon.The developments come on the same day that Buffalo agreed to a restructured contract with Jackson, completing his trade from the Seahawks, ESPN reported.Young, the former University of Texas star who struggled in the professional ranks, signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Bills in May after spending last season with the Philadelphia Eagles.The former Heisman Trophy runner-up and former third overall pick of the 2006 NFL Draft had seemingly wrested control of the race to be the team’s No. 2 quarterback behind starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, only to play poorly in the Bills’ 38-7 preseason loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday night and change the minds of both coach Chan Gailey and general manager Buddy Nix.Young threw two interceptions in the loss, with the first coming on his first pass attempt en route to completing just 12 of 26 passes for 103 yards in the second half.In three preseason games, Young had completed just 48 percent of his passes for 276 yards and two interceptions without a touchdown. He was also sacked three times and charged with a fumble.Jackson had been scheduled to make $4 million this season, but both sides agreed to reduce that number because the Bills were adamant the price was too high for a backup quarterback.Buffalo signed Fitzpatrick to a six-year, $59 million extension last season, leaving Young to battle Tyler Thigpen for the backup job. Gailey has maintained that he planned to just keep one backup quarterback because the No. 3 spot would be reserved for wide receiver/Wildcat specialist Brad Smith.
Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppBahamas, June 29th 2017: Mosquito Fogging exercises have begun as an increase of mosquitoes are anticipated with the start of summer. The exercise is to be conducted by the Ministry of Environmental Health and will take to various communities and neighbourhoods across The Bahamas.While no updated travel advisories have been issued for the region, including The Bahamas, ahead of the usual hectic summer season, health officials including the CDC in the US, remain on alert in event of possible cases.The Bahamas Ministry of Environmental Health is urging residents to keep an ear out for community announcements on the radio for scheduled times in their neighbourhoods. The exercise is usually conducted at night, or after the sun has set, as a result, residents are asked to stay indoors. #MagneticMediaNews#MosquitoFoggingExerciseCommence Related Items:
Recommended for you Related Items:#magneticmedianews Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp ALERT # 2 ON POTENTIAL TROPICAL CYCLONE NINE ISSUED BY THE BAHAMAS DEPARTMENT OF METEOROLOGY THURSDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER, 2019 AT 9 PM EDT The Luxury of Grace Bay in Down Town Provo Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppBahamas, July 24, 2017 – Nassau – Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Kwasi Thompson visited Washington D.C. this past Friday where he addressed participants in a Small Business Development Center Study Tour, sponsored by The Organization of American States.Addressing participants from throughout the Caribbean, OAS officials and others, the Minister said he was pleased to represent The Bahamas at the event and that it was particularly important for him to see the implementation of the program in The Bahamas and especially on the island of Grand Bahama.He told the assembly that the current administration is focused on small business assistance and that development of the program will help to fulfill that commitment.Minister Thompson also recalled that it was only a few short months ago that The Bahamas signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the OAS to become part of the cooperation programme being offered through the United States Permanent Mission to the OAS in conjunction with the University of Texas in San Antonio.“The Bahamas is an active member of the OAS in all areas and particularly in the affairs of the Secretariat for Integral Development,” he told the gathering.Further, he informed that The Bahamas has a small and open economy, primarily driven by two sectors, tourism and financial services, with tourism being the dominant sector contributing better than 45% of the country’s gross domestic product.The Grand Bahama Minister advised that while most economic activities are concentrated on the country’s most populated island, New Providence, that Grand Bahama, the second most populated island hosts one of the first free ports in the world, a special economic zone.He also stressed that the island is home to one of the largest container shipping facilities on the eastern seaboard with the capacity to service approximately 1.5 million twenty-foot container units a year including the capacity to service 750 refrigerated units.Also, that the island is home of the Grand Bahama Shipyard, one of the largest centers for dry-docking and afloat services for repairs, refit, refurbishment and revitalization.The Minister also advised that our government recognizes that in order to accelerate the country’s economic growth, steps need to be taken to further develop an environment which focuses on competitiveness, ease of doing business and macroeconomic stability.“My Government also recognizes that the growth and expansion of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises or MSMEs is key to the country’s growth success and we are creating an environment which encourages innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit of the people.“To be successful, this will take a coordinated approach targeted at addressing the needs of the MSME sector of the economy,” he said.Continuing, he informed that to stimulate the growth of MSMEs, previous governments had established agencies targeted at supporting the development of those enterprises.Some of the key agencies according to Mr. Thompson included the Bahamas Agricultural & Industrial Corporation, the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Capital Fund and the Bahamas Development Bank.He also informed that representatives from those agencies had traveled to Washington for the event also.“The aim of these agencies is to encourage the creation, expansion and promotion of SMEs through the provision of business incubation support services, resources such as industrial land at concessionary rates, access to development funding, access to buyers’ market and the provision of monitoring and evaluation services for small businesses,” he said.Mr. Thompson was also keen on pointing out that “although our Government has only been in office for approximate two months, I am pleased that our Government has agreed to continue the important process of establishing two Small Business Development Centers with support of the US Permanent Mission to the OAS, to better coordinate the efforts of existing agencies which support SME development.“The creation of such centers was a key recommendation of the country’s National Development Plan. The Centers will also develop a framework that will help to increase collaboration and networking between SMEs.“Our plan calls for the Small Business Development Centers to be based at two campuses of the University of The Bahamas in New Providence and Grand Bahama and comprised of a team of professionals from a variety of sectors namely, the public sector, academia, agencies responsible for small business development and the Chamber of Commerce,” he stated.According to the Minister the Center will have the advantage of accessing a cadre of qualified faculty and global network of resources aimed at small business growth.He said that members of the team have in the past several months been engaged in active dialogue and training with personnel from the Small Business Development Center of the University of Texas.“We are pleased that the team has already developed a Strategic and Operational Plan which will be implemented in both Grand Bahama and New Providence before the end of 2017 and will be subsequently launched in our Family Islands in the near future.“The plan includes the organizational structure of the Center and the roles and responsibilities of key personnel. Once fully implemented it is our vision that the Center will be the leading driver of economic growth for small businesses by empowering entrepreneurial development throughout The Bahamas.“We anticipate that the Small Business Development Centre Model that The Bahamas will be implementing over the next few months will not only grow and expand SMEs, but will also create further opportunities for partnerships between domestic and international businesses, attracting more investment into the country,” he said.#magneticmedianews Electricity Cost of Service Study among the big agenda items at September 11 Cabinet meeting