SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – After 31-months at the helm of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) as Executive Director, Anastacio Baker, will be returning to the private sector on January 1, 2020. Baker started at the Chamber on July 1, 2017 and gave notice of his decision to resign to the Board of Directors in December 2018.
Prior to taking on the position of Executive Director, Baker was a Vice President of the COCI Board for a number of years, and also employed at the Princess Juliana International Airport as the Quality Assurance Manager.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board of Directors current and past of COCI, for their support during the past two plus years. I would also like to say thank you to the COCI staff for all the assistance that they rendered during my tenure. We worked closely as a team and were able to accomplish a lot.
“I joined the Chamber as a businessperson because, I could relate to the cries of the business community. I’ve been able to accomplish many things during the past two-and-a-half years, but it’s time to move on and allow somebody else the opportunity to carry on and further expand on the initiatives that I was able to implement.
“I will be returning to managing Baker Suites a family owned and operated boutique hotel that is part and parcel of our tourism-oriented economy. At the moment, the country remains in a very delicate recovery phase after the hurricanes of September 2017.
“We are not out of the woods yet. All business owners are experiencing very challenging times and the time has come for me to focus on Baker Suites as we continue to rebuild our economy,” COCI Executive Director Anastacio Baker stated.
President of the Board of Directors Benjamin Ortega said on Monday: Baker has demonstrated that innovation in doing business comes from understanding the main principles of doing and conducting good business.
“Having a strategy, creating market value and executing based on leadership initiatives are Baker’s main contributions to the development of the Chamber. For this we will miss him and wish him all the best in his further endeavors.”
Baker initiated a number of initiatives with the last one being the, “Grow Your Business with COCI Workshops,” 2019 training series. The workshops will continue into the first quarter of 2020.
The first workshop took place in August with the objective of serving as a tool to give business owners real advice tailored-made to the current Sint Maarten business environment.
The concept ‘grow by learning’ training workshops, according to Baker, are crucial for personal and professional business development of entrepreneurs and is an opportunity for individuals to acquire new skills, improve their existing knowledge and abilities which allows them to continue to grow their business.
Some of the other Baker initiatives that stands out are the Business Orientation Program; developing a closer relationship between COCI and the Chambers of Commerce of the five islands of the former Netherlands Antilles and French St. Martin; the monthly radio program ‘Your Chamber Speaks’ on Laser 101 Radio every first Thursday of the month at 7.00pm hosted by the COCI President and the Executive Director; partnerships with strategic entities; and the ‘Business Pitch to Seatrade.’
“In the beginning when I started at the Chamber, my first priority was improving customer service provided by frontline staff. As they always say, there is always room for improvement in whatever you do, and this was accomplished. As I always tell our staff, I am not the boss. Your boss is each customer that walks through our doors.
“We also introduced a Business Orientation Program with the objective of assisting new entrepreneurs by orienting them with the process of registering their new business with the various government and non-government entities in order to ensure that they meet all their obligations according to the laws of the country, and to give them tips on best business practices.
“The island is divided by two different jurisdictions that have different constitutional responsibilities. One side is Dutch and the other is French. The economy of the entire island is tourism-oriented, and therefore, it was very important to have both Chambers, COCI and the Chambre Consulaire Interprofessionnelle de Saint Martin (CCISM), to come together to discuss matters of mutual interests. We will be hosting a networking event for business owners of both sides of the island on November 8 at the Simpson Bay Public Service Center at the Fish Market.
“Another initiative was developing partnerships with key entities such as Port St. Maarten and SXM Airport. We were able to attend the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Conference and the SeatradeCruiseGlobal Conference & Expo as a strong St. Maarten delegation. The latter resulted in the initiative, ‘Business Pitch to Seatrade,’ where three entrepreneurs got the opportunity to attend the aforementioned conference & expo.
“The Chamber also introduced earlier this year a new service called, COCI 2U. This service entails COCI going to the business establishment after a request has been made for an excerpt and delivering aforementioned document and at the same time picking up of annual fees due, among other Chamber to Business related matters.
“Overall, I am very pleased with the initiatives introduced and what I have been able to accomplish with the full support of the Board of Directors, the COCI Operational Team, and my family. A strong foundation has been laid for the next Executive Director to further build upon,” Baker concluded.