In the year 1513, while in quest of the Fountain of Youth, Ponce De Leon sailed these waters, came to this island, and did what sensible men would do for the next 440 years: be kept right on going.
PERKINS ON CAM
GROVES WALKS SHORE, GAZES AROUND
GROVES WALKS ON AND TO LANDROVER
PLANES TAKES OFF
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Background: In the year 1513, while in quest of the Fountain of Youth, Ponce De Leon sailed these waters, came to this island, and did what sensible men would do for the next 440 years: be kept right on going.
There was no Fountain of Youth here, no silver, no spices, nothing anyone had any use for.
Until there came this man --- Wallace Groves.American financier, and as much as any man, the discoverer of Grand Bahama Island.
Groves went to the Bahamas government with his "possibilities".They may have thought him a bit daft, but they had never figured anything to do with Grand Bahama, so there was nothing to lose.They virtually gave him a sizeable part of the island in what was hailed as the most sweeping land charter since the Hundson Bay Company.
So he had the land.And the ideas.Now he needed to convince some other investors to join him.
He began with a couple of British millionaires, Charles Hayward and, here, his son, Jack.
They dug a harbour.They found the limestone they dredged up was perfect for cement.So they got US Steel to come and build a fifty million dollar cement plant....in the heavy industrial area.
In the resort area, they built a casino.Gambling lured tourists.Now they can't build hotels fast enough.300 hotel rooms now.By next year, ten times that many.Grand Bahama Island, starting from nothing, threatens to outdo traditional Nassau as a tourist attraction.
And as a business attraction, there are no taxes. .So 416 companies have suddenly shown up with a quarter-billion dollars, investing, building and changing...that is the remarkable story, the change.
Five years ago there were a few natives.
Next month the net strip opens....to bring more people to start business, plot subdivisions, fill hotels and high-rise apartments on an island where five years ago there was nothing.
Grand Bahama Island, off the cost of Florida, until the past few years has been one of the most attractive but desolate and unwanted places on earth. Now however, it is undergoing a sudden and drastic change.Jack Perkins reports.