A major push is on to drive more traffic to the island’s capital and especially to the once vibrant Mall 34 on Broad Street, The City.
On Thursday, officials of Optimum Health officially launched a business incubator and exhibition centre at the mall.
Chief Executive Officer of Optimum Health Max Millar said the project could serve as an avenue for retrenched workers to set up a business and for existing entrepreneurs to develop their operations.
He said the one-year-old company, which promotes financial and physical health, would be rolling out its comprehensive plan in different phases.
The first phase, he said, was the introduction of the “identity plan”.
“The identity plan is if you are an entrepreneur and you are operating out of your home but you want to have a presence in Bridgetown, you want to have a mailing address that is not your home, we provide what we call the identity plan . . . and we will have someone who can take your walk-in messages. We basically present a face for you here at Mall 34,” he explained.
“The next step up from that is what we call the flexi-plan where we will give you a table space upstairs. You can have a table space where you can have your products set up on display and people come and purchase your products. If you want someone to market the products for you . . . we will also provide that service for you,” he said.
Millar said while the project was a partnership between himself and owners of the mall, there have been “expressions of interest” from the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the YMCA.
Millar explained that in addition to the identity plan and flexi plan, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to rent a shop space on the first floor of the mall for “a reasonable price”.
“To complement all of those three plans we also have available, services to support you like accounting, legal and marketing services, to help you in the development and growth of your business,” he added.
The cost for the range of services under the business incubator ranges from $150 to $600, while the support services will attract an additional $400 fee.
Agreeing that the City was in need of new life, Millar said he believed the incubator programme could help.
He said with some traditional jobs set to be on the decline and given government’s retrenchment programme, he expected
more people would get involved in entrepreneurship.
“People will be looking to see what they can do to help themselves. If you have an idea for a business you can come and work with us here at the incubator centre,” he said.
Millar said there were more programmes on the card for the area including a tourist attraction to “drive constant traffic and customers to the mall” and “to help bring life and revitalize Bridgetown”.
“We ultimately have a vision of Bridgetown being a 24-hour shopping centre. That is what we are working towards,” he added.
With the idea of making Bridgetown an “economic zone” officials of Optimum Health say plans are also in the pipeline to offer a day care in the capital for children and the elderly “to provide convenience for shoppers and persons working in and around the City.
While no timeline has been given for the introduction of the other services, the company is also hoping to introduce a doctor’s office, health and wellness plans, a free exhibition centre for entrepreneurs and a job placement centre.
Also in the works is a pantry service where individuals and companies could donate items for people in need.