Disaster Recovery Advocate of the Year Award Given to USVIEDA in Miami

Accepting Award: Kamal I. Latham, CEO of USVIEDA (second from the right) and Cusa Holloway, USVIED, accept the 2018 Disaster Recovery Advocate of the Year Award for the USVIEDA in Miami. They are joined by Efrain Gonzalez Jr., awards luncheon keynote speaker (far left); Marie Gill of MBDA Export Center (second from the left); and Desmond Alufohai, MEDWeek co-chair (far right).

Collaborations between local and federal partners to assist small and minority-owned businesses are key to success for the United States Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA) after hurricanes Irma and Maria

For its performance in providing economic services and resources to small and minority-owned businesses in the U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, USVIEDA was recently awarded the 2018 Disaster Recovery Advocate of the Year Award by Florida’s Minority Business Development Agency Export Center. The award was given on Friday, Oct. 19, during the 36th Annual Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Business Matchmaker Conference & Awards Power Lunch in Miami, Fla.

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Export Center also recognized USVIEDA for its engagement and support of the MBDA Export Center & Disaster Assistance Programs for South Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, during the post-hurricane recovery process throughout the USVI. After the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria on the territory in September 2017, the USVIEDA worked with the MBDA, local and federal government agencies, non-profit organizations, lending institutions and other private sector businesses to assist the territory’s business community.

In May 2018, MBDA hosted a “Small Business Recovery and Growth Event” in partnership with the USVIEDA to share information with owners and representatives of small and minority-owned businesses in the USVI about tax incentives for small businesses, financing options, technical assistance, exporting opportunities and disaster preparedness planning. Representatives of the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) were also present to inform local contractors about upcoming construction projects and discussed grant funding that was anticipated for the territory through the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR).

In August 2018, the MBDA held a week of mentorship and technical assistance workshops for business owners in the districts of St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix.

After the storms, the USVIEDA also collaborated with the U.S. Department of Commerce; U.S. Economic Development Administration (U.S. EDA); U.S. Department of Agriculture; Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); U.S. Small Business Administration (U.S. SBA); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA); and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and non-profit organizations to facilitate disaster recovery activities to help local businesses.

USVIEDA also worked with IEDC volunteer experts to
1) conduct a survey with more than 30 businesses in the territory to learn about their challenges and needs,
2) assess the territory’s economic situation, identify and recommend strategies to stimulate growth; and
3) evaluate the EDB loan programs.

The USVIEDA also facilitated discussions between IEDC volunteer experts and key stakeholders such as Virgin Islands legislators, members of local chambers of commerce and community foundations, and the leaders of local government agencies.

The USVIEDA also met with business owners during site visits to learn about their challenges and discuss how public-private partnerships can improve the territory’s economy. The USVIEDA brought together entrepreneurs with representatives from federal and local agencies, community organizations, and lending institutions. It also assisted its clients and other small and minority businesses with other initiatives through the Economic Development Bank (EDB), V.I. Economic Development Commission (VIEDC), and the Enterprise Zone Commission (EZC).

For more information, send an email to info@usvieda.org or visit https://medweekflorida.org/.