Governor Returning to V.I. after Economic Development Outreach

Richard Motta, communications director, talks about the governor’s trip to New York and Taiwan on Monday. (Government House Facebook screenshot)

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. is on his way home after two weeks in New York and Taiwan, meeting with executives and government officials to promote Virgin Islands business opportunities, Richard Motta, Government House communications director, said Monday during the weekly press briefing.

While in New York, Bryan and his entourage visited the New York Stock Exchange, and met with the New York City Mayor Eric Adams, the New York City Chamber of Commerce, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and others.

In Taipei, Taiwan, Bryan participated in the opening of an Invest USVI Trade and Investments office, visited the National Taiwan Science Technology University to establish a student exchange program, and met with the Evergreen World Shipping senior management team to discuss St. Croix shipping and docking potential.

Before leaving the territory, Bryan met with Diageo executives and will meet soon with Beam Suntory, the owners of Cruzan Rum, to discuss future plans for the rum distilleries. Motta said the governor will assess any possible effect their plans might have on V.I. excise taxes and the rum cover-over. The rum cover-over yields significant annual revenue to the territory – based on rum sales on the mainland.

Upon return, Bryan will meet with the 35th Legislature in a special session to discuss opening a $150 million line of credit to supplement some of the recovery projects.

“As many of you know, the Virgin Islands Government has to meet a requirement with the federal government to initiate these projects or unblock the funding to the tune of 10 percent. With a now, $12 billion dollar recovery, that accounts for about a billion dollars in local match funds to get many of these recovery projects off the ground and to completion,” Motta said.

The Line of Credit is to help smaller contractors get started, he added.

Also, during the briefing, Virgin Islands epidemiologist Esther Ellis provided current COVID statistics and talked about the Health Departments’ events to observe Public Health Week.

There are three more cases of the coronavirus than last week, for a positivity rate of 3.5 percent. Of 20 infections, 13 are on St. Croix and St. Thomas has seven. Three people are hospitalized, two on St. Thomas and one at the St. Croix hospital. St. John has no recorded infections.

COVID and flu vaccines continue to be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the former Caribe Home Center on St. Croix and the Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas. Call 340-777-7477 to make appointments for the flu vaccine on St. Thomas. To make an appointment for children to get a COVID vaccine, call 340-777-8804. On Wednesdays, vaccines will be available on St. John from 1-4 p.m. at the Port Authority Lot.

“Everyone six months and older can receive the vaccine and booster,” Ellis said.

For Public Health Week, Ellis announced the Health Department will conduct door-to-door visits in the housing communities, discussing all aspects of health, behavioral health care and other health-related subjects.

On Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., activities will be held in the parking lot at SRMC, including health screenings, and information on physical education and nutrition will be distributed. There will also be an Easter egg hunt and a bouncy house for children.

A health fair was held Monday at the Sunny Isle amphitheater for St. Croix residents.

Motta ended the briefing with safety tips for Easter campers. Permits are needed for bonfires and must be displayed on-site. Bonfires should be set 15 feet away from tents and vehicles. Propane stoves should be used outdoors only and generators only filled when cool.