Consul General calls on Grenadians to invest in Grenada

By Lincoln DePradine

Diplomat Gerry Hopkin is keeping a promise to meet with as many Grenadians in Canada as he possibly can, and to offer more than just the traditional consular services as  consul general in Toronto for Grenada.

Consul Gerry Hopkin (left) and Sekou Stroude, Tourism Sales & Marketing Director

According to Hopkin, who assumed his position in Toronto late last year, Grenadians who send money to family living in their Caribbean homeland are “nation builders,” and he thanked them for their remittances.

However, he now wants them to consider becoming investors and industry partners in Grenada, which includes the Grenadine islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

“If you support your family and you send money that they spend to keep the wheels of the economy turning, you are contributing to national development. So, I want to recognize all of you in the Diaspora. Thank you for all that you have been doing and I’m asking you also to do a little bit more,’’ Hopkin said Sunday at an event of the Grenadian-Canadian community in Toronto.

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell met with members of a popular music group of Grenadians in Toronto

Community members had gathered for another celebratory activity in this year’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Grenada’s independence from Britain.

The year-long “Golden Jubilee’’ anniversary is being observed by Grenadian nationals at home and in various overseas communities, including Canada.

Dickon Mitchell, the Grenada prime minister, and Andy Williams, the country’s minister of mobilization, implementation and transformation, visited Toronto to attend a February 10 independence gala.

Other events in the province of Ontario have included an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service; the lighting of the clock tower at Brampton’s city hall; the illumination of the waters at Niagara Falls in the national colours of Grenada; and, the raising of Grenada’s red, green and gold flag above Toronto city hall.

Last Sunday, “Showcase Grenada’’ at the Jamaican Canadian Association Centre on Arrow Road, featured various cultural elements from Grenada, including musicians and dancers, as well as food, arts, craft and literature.

Drumming at ‘Showcase Grenada’

A tourism display was also mounted by Sekou Stroude, sales and marketing director in Canada for the Grenada Tourism Authority.

“Additional Jubilee events will be announced later,’’ Toronto organizers have said.

“I’m happy to be here with all of you celebrating together,’’ Hopkin told “Showcase Grenada’’ attendees.

He had just returned to Toronto from Montreal, where a Grenada independence anniversary gala was held on Saturday.

“The gala went very well. I brought love from Ontario and I’m bringing back love from Montreal to all of you,’’ Hopkin said.

“We’re trying to be as inclusive as possible. We have provinces – besides Ontario – where there are Grenadians; so, we have to try and share the time.’’

Celebrating 50 years as an independent nation is “a big deal’’, said Hopkin. “It’s an achievement that we all should be happy about.’’

” It’s an opportunity to reflect on the country’s struggles and to recognize its founding-prime minister, Sir Eric Gairy, and also the leaders and “fighters’’ that came before and after him, including current Prime Minister Mitchell, said Hopkin.

 “They all have contributed and our current prime minister is doing his part as well,’’ he said.  “It’s a continuum; we have to build on the past and make the future better than the present.’’

Almost from his first day as consul general, Hopkin embarked on an outreach to engage Grenadian-Canadians on issues of trade and investment.

“At the consulate, we are not only about consular services; it’s not only about renewing passports,’’ he emphasized Sunday.

“We are really hammering, aggressively pursuing, the development of trade,’’ Hopkin said, adding that it includes increasing the trade of Grenadian products “to the rest of the world, especially to Canada’’.

“We want to export more; but to export, you have to produce. And, that is why I am encouraging every one of you to consider investing in Grenada,’’ Hopkin said. ‘Become a partner, become an investor.’’

Many ways exist to invest and a person doesn’t have to be a millionaire to do so, said Hopkin.

“Just a few thousand dollars could make a big difference for a farmer who is trying to buy new equipment, or trying to build a shed or some storage space for refrigeration. Or, you can contribute to someone who is adding value to products,’’ advised Hopkin.

Potential investors should seek available concessions and utilize the services of the Grenada Investment Development Corporation (GIDC), a statutory body whose mandate is to “stimulate, facilitate and encourage the establishment and development of industry in Grenada.”

The GIDC, said Hopkin, can “walk you through the process’’, including what opportunities are available and share information on what incentives and concessions are provided through the corporation.

“Any and every one of you can be an investor and you may qualify for concessions. Look into it,’’ Hopkin told the gathering.