Having experienced devastation to its Settlers’ Way location as a result of Hurricane Dorian back in September 2019, BTC (Bahamas Telecommunications Company) officially reopened its doors at that location recently, boasting a new state-of-the-art facility for staff to continue their legacy in the Grand Bahama community.
On hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony, which took place on March 19, were BTC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andre Foster; Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister and Minister of State for Finance, Sen. J. Kwasi Thompson; Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources and Member of Parliament Michael Pintard; other government officials, members of the Grand Bahama Christian Council, and fellow members of the business community.
BTC’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Foster, noted during his remarks that the opening of BTC’s Settlers’ Way office space was indeed a proud ‘blue letter’ day for the BTC family.
“With just 19 days in office as CEO, I’m really proud to be here as we open our completely renovated employee offices right here at Settlers’ Way. Settlers’ Way has a special place in BTC’s business, as this is one of the oldest facilities in our Grand Bahama operation.
“After Hurricane Dorian, we, like many people and businesses in Grand Bahama and Abaco, lost everything. Our building was submerged in water, we lost our fleet and our entire warehouse with all of its equipment. The damage was insurmountable,” Foster recalled.
“Through all of that though, I stand proud to say that what we did not lose was the indomitable spirit of the men and women that bleed blue for BTC and the people of this country. Our team, though broken in some instances, by grave personal circumstances, rallied together almost immediately to restore critical communications service to the Grand Bahama community; a true example of service beyond self.
“Sixteen months later, I am proud that we are here, as we’ve come back home. We have restored this building, and totally modernized the facility; a facility, which is more than just a building, it’s home for team BTC. Today, we will proudly cut the ribbon, symbolizing the start of a new beginning. This is truly a new page in our history, not just the opening of this facility, but also a renewing of our commitment to the growth and development of the Grand Bahama community,” he said.
Foster also shared a number of initiatives which BTC has implemented in order to add to various upgrades of their services on the island.
“I am proud to announce that we have deployed green, containerized central offices in five locations. The first of which was in McLean’s Town. This containerized solution has replaced a traditional brick and mortar central office, which have been susceptible to damage as a result of hurricanes in the past. The new central offices are solar powered with a backup generator and commercial power is a secondary source of electricity.
“We’ve deployed these solutions in Sweeting’s Cay, Marsh Harbour, Cooper’s Town and Ragged Island as well. I am also really proud to say that we’ve completed broadband upgrades in several communities, including Bootle Bay, Bahama Beach, Deadman’s Reef, Holmes Rock, Sea Grape, Pine Forest, Pinedale, Jones Town, Hanna Hill, Bartlett Hill, Harbour West, Hepburn Town, Martin Town and West End. Residents in these areas are enjoying our fiber to the home service with extraordinary broadband speeds, IP television services and landline services that enable connectivity and progress,” he revealed.
“While we have worked very hard over the last 16 months to shore up our network and rebuild our facilities, we have not forgotten the community which we are very much a part of.
“To my team, the strong and mighty Grand Bahama, I am inspired by your resilience and I am encouraged by your efforts, you are the true example of an overcomer.
“The opening of this facility is through your hard work even in the midst of a global pandemic, your determination and your indomitable spirit. Thank you to everyone that took the time to share this small but what we consider as an auspicious occasion with us today. We are BTC strong,” added Foster.
In his remarks Thompson noted: “It’s good to be here today to celebrate another community milestone on Grand Bahama’s road to recovery. The BTC Settlers’ Way location is a prime example of the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian and the difficult road to recovery for many Grand Bahamian businesses.
“The BTC facility, one of the oldest facilities in Grand Bahama, was under more than six feet of water after Dorian. Everything was destroyed, including BTC’s fleet, equipment and entire warehouse. Too many have had to start from scratch because of what Dorian took. However, every day, rising from the rubble we see our island coming back better and stronger.
“I am advised that BTC has recently completed its fiber to the home upgrades in the Grand Bahama community.”
He continued: “The 5,000 square foot renovated facility at Settlers’ Way contains two conference rooms, a lounge and a café. The building is completely wireless and integrates a digital appointment system to book a ‘hot seat’ in the cue.
“Again, I congratulate BTC on this important milestone for the company and for the community. Each step we take forward towards our recovery builds represents a boost of momentum and motivation for others to follow. Hand in hand, the community, the government and our civil society and private sector partners will restore Grand Bahama and see it thrive again.”
Pintard also congratulated BTC executives on their latest milestone, despite the challenges on the island of Grand Bahama.
“The story of BTC has had the same story of what Grand Bahama is going through - survival, recovery and becoming an overcomer. What you are doing here today will help many Grand Bahamians as they recover. We are proud of the work that BTC is doing, the philanthropic contributions that have been made to many of the schools throughout Grand Bahama, in particular, in my constituency as well. I am appreciative of that contribution,” Pintard noted.
“A number of our constituents have benefitted from the partnership between BTC and Rotary; homes were gutted and retrofitted so that persons could return home. At the end of the day, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the government would have spent in order to assist persons that were challenged, the average Grand Bahamian wants to be in charge of their own destiny and rebuilding their lives.
“The work that you have done, to return a sense of normalcy to persons, by helping them to get back into their homes has gone a long way in lifting the spirit of this island. We have survived the worst, and what you are doing today, clearly shows that when we are focused and when we work as a team, we are able to recover lost ground but we are able to d o it better than we did in the past.
“We are excited about you expanding your footprint in Grand Bahama, but in the course of doing it, we recognize that we must be climate smart in our construction; we must be mindful of the impact of what we do, during the construction phase on climate change and so I was pleased to learn that you have focused on a green solution, in helping your workers learn that it is important on some smaller footprint, as we contribute to not just saving Grand Bahama, but saving this climate.
“I wish to congratulate your staff on the incredible work that you are doing.
All of us in our lives, at some point, are dealing with survival issues. Be it a relationship, a job, a business but God has an amazing way of helping us to overcome and service.
“Grand Bahamians, time and time again have demonstrated that we are able to bounce back from the worst adversities and we are able to steer the course and make it through.
“We are in the best position to say to the rest of the country, ‘This is how you do it’ and we ought to do it together,” concluded Pintard.
In opening the office space, the ribbon cutting was done by long time employee of BTC, retiree Catherine Williams.