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The Making of The Magic City Freeport

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – American businessman Wallace Groves purchased the Abaco Lumber Company in Pineridge in 1946 and used the profits to develop Freeport. 






NASSAU, BAHAMAS – When American businessman Wallace Groves purchased the Abaco Lumber Company in Pineridge in 1946 for 50,000 pounds and sold in 1954 for $4 million in cash, he used the profits to develop Freeport. 

The following year the Hawksbill Creek Agreement was signed by Groves and government to establish the city and free trade zone in Grand Bahama.

The new Grand Bahama Port Authority would develop the city and the port of Freeport exempt from income, capital gains, real estate, and private property taxes until 1985.  It was extended for a further 49 years to 2054. 

When the PLP won Majority Rule in 1967 and again in 1968 the Hawksbill Creek Agreement was a source of contention with the new government. 

A 1968 White Paper on local government suggested decentralized government from Nassau. The agreement was identified as an exception. 

On July 26th, 1969,  Lynden Pindling gave his famous bend or break speech at the opening of the BBORCO refinery. 

In part he said Bahamians are nevertheless still the victims of an unbending social order, which, if it now refuses to bend, must be broken.”

Freeport’s original concept as an international trading post, began to diversify with the construction of the Lucayan Beach and the Bahamas Princess Hotels. 

The 60’s established the island as a premier tourist destination. The 70’s saw a surge in industry – cement manufacturing, bunkering terminals and the Bahamas Oil Refinery Company.

When Sir Jack Hayward and Edward St. George took over the port authority in 1976, they made a son of the soil Sir Albert Miller president.

Two years later the three bought out Wallace Groves – and ushered in what is described as a remarkable growth period over the next 25 years. 

At Sir Albert’s retirement in 2003, St. George said “In those 30 years he has done more than fulfilled our expectations; without him we could not have achieved what we did.”

Freeport hit another growth spurt in the 1990s under Hubert Ingraham’s Free National Movement government.

The Maritime Center, Container Port, Freeport Harbour Company, Bradford Marine, the GB Shipyard, and Our Lucaya and Pelican Bay Resorts opened in that period.

Unfortunately, the 2000’s delivered a series of devastating hurricanes to Grand Bahama which have helped to stunt the island’s economic growth – Frances, Jean, Wilma and more recently Dorian.