November 30, 2012
The owner of Wing Zone is appealing to the government to include businesses shut down from the road works in its relief plans. Michael Turnquest, who closed the franchise last July, said the $15 million relief plan outlined by the government does nothing for those most impacted. The proposal includes a number of discounts and incentives for businesses still operating, but nothing for those already brought on their knees. "How is that going to benefit those who can't go back to the bank to even quality for a loan?" he asked. "They have lost the location.
This plan seems to only benefit those still hanging on. Where does it leave those of us shut down?" Over the last few years, Wing Zone is certainly not the only business that has closed up shop. No study or survey has been conducted, but most on the ground agree that job losses have been in the hundreds, if not thousands. Ethric Bowe from the Coconut Grove Business League confirmed a number of closures in his area, including Jiffy Cleaners, which employed 40 Bahamians. "A number of small businesses have gone under and bigger businesses are just inconvenienced," he said.
"They are losing money in certain locations but consumers will see that reflected in the cost of living. Rich people have the ability to adjust. It's the people in the middle that really continue to suffer. They are holding on for dear life." Dionisio D'Aguilar, the owner of Superwash, recently told fellow entrepreneurs to "take the deal and run". He felt the government is "borrowed out", and while the situation is far from ideal, it is likely the best offer in a very unfortunate situation. The proposed relief plan has also been endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce for similar reasons.
Wing Zone, a promising franchise with aspirations to expand throughout New Providence, recently told its customers over Facebook that it will not be reopening its doors. Turnquest told Guardian Business he never heard from the government once despite his repeated pleas for a meeting. "I never heard from anybody. It is definitely disappointing," he added. "Duty exemption can't help me. I need capital to reopen, and I wouldn't want to go get another loan and give myself an even bigger financial burden."
While acknowledging the difficult situation for the government, calling it a "good gesture", he expressed hope that the counter proposals can include something for businesses totally shut down. That could mean financial compensation of some kind or favorable loans so they can re-open their doors. For now, Wing Zone simply plans to do a hard asset sale, seeking an investor who is seeking to start over with the location.
The fallen entrepreneur said he has little choice but to cut the business loose. "It's ridiculous. We know how the court system goes. If I took legal action you could be fighting this battle for years, paying legal and court fees," he said. "I don't expect them to give out tons of cash, but they need to take a look at it and see what can be done to get businesses back up and running."
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