I am indeed pleased to be here this afternoon to witness a truly pioneering initiative that will undoubtedly serve as a launch pad for community spiritedness and as impetus for driving increased entrepreneurial activity among the people of the Green Valley. Equally importantly, this initiative will be a source of employment generation and a springboard for to build upon the development that is evident to date in this community as a whole.
Let me therefore commend the Cayon Community Development Association for this bold step that can further transform the physical landscape of Green Valley while promoting greater decentralization in economic development that offers myriad opportunities for both the community and its residents.
Let me emphasize at this juncture that the implementation of Government’s land use policy which was developed under the former Administration which I led envisaged the establishment of residencies, educational, social/ recreational and business facilities to complement the burgeoning commercial activity and overall development that was evident island wide. Cayon is one of the growing communities on the island that has been at the centre of such development.
It is heartening to see the gas station in this location five miles from the city centre in Basseterre. This type of economic activity must therefore encouraged for the following reasons:
• It is locally managed and owned
• It provides economic activity and employment for residents of the Cayon and surrounding villages.
• It services the needs of several other neighbouring communities
• It minimizes the traffic congestion in Basseterre
The traveling public must be able to access such services provided here in the rural areas. Cayon has always been considered as one of the growth-poles of St. Kitts that offer the potential to be classified as a town based on population size and services offered.
Whereas it is a truism that rural areas are usually characterised by outward migration and the lack of infrastructure such as housing, that is indeed not the reality of the Green Valley environment. In fact, with the phenomenal expansion of housing development, as evidenced by the Cabbage Tree Housing Development, the Hermitage Housing Development, and the Spooners Extension Housing Development all of which have been rolled out in the Cayon Community, it is clear that this business venture envisages serving an ever-expanding community.
Adding significantly to the economic life of the Green Valley is a medical university just around the corner. The Windsor University continues its programme of expansion, providing more employment but also business opportunities in the form of property rental and initiatives of which this one being launched today is an example.
Indeed, it is as a result of such developments that the ground was laid for the Cayon Community Association to set upon its goals and objectives, beginning with this Super Gas Station.
These are the seeds of empowerment that must germinate and grow, watered by enterprising residents who are not only focusing on their personal gain but who would venture to assist others in leading the charge for further initiatives to flourish. I therefore challenge the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Lennox Liburd and his associates to re-examine the thrust of the vision that informed their undertaking to ensure that there are opportunities for promoting genuine impact at the community level. Indeed, you have outlined what you consider to be goals and objectives that will embody the ethos of the Green Valley. It is my hope that these would not be buried by other priorities that could stymie the advancement of this project. Let this bold beginning mushroom into the full actualization of your ideas.
I applaud the future community-based initiatives such as those outlined for the company. Be transparent in your dealings! Be guided by sound business principles that would position your venture for success. Be inspired by community-minded icons who have preceded you such as Emile and Marie Grant ( the pioneers of this service here in Cayon). Consider Icen Wharton, Walwyn, Warner, Frazer, Johnson, Pilgrim, Valentine Grant, Prince, Huggins, Nisbett, Phipps, Otto, Burt, Frank Tyson, Isaac, Halva and others whose small business operations spanned decades and were synonymous with life in the Green Valley.
Yours business is evolving in a modern era when the expansion program undertaken under my Administration allowed so many the benefit of the land ownership, business opportunities and access to available capital for increased investment. Think of the many possibilities that you have been afforded. Build with your community and its people at the heart and centre of your interest. Your business is strategically located to attract a clientele of diverse origin. Take advantage of this by coupling location with professional service. In this way, doing business at your gas station would not be an afterthought but a deliberate decision as a result of the high level of customer service that I know will be offered here.
Let me conclude by reiterating my sentiments of commendation to you, Mr Liburd and the Associates of Cayon Community Development Association. May God be at the centre of everything you do throughout your daily operations here. Thank you!