USVI Business Resource Hub Draws Interest and Support From Stakeholders

First day of launch week for USVI Business Resource Hub was held via Zoom on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (Photo credit: Semele A.C. George/VIEDA)

USVI Business Resource Hub, an online and mobile business resource powered by Startup Space, was recently introduced to U.S. Virgin Islands businesses and community stakeholders during its four-day launch, according to the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA).

This launch was held virtually, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, from Oct. 20-23, in partnership with the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center (VI SBDC), the V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (VI DLCA) and the University of the Virgin Islands Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning (UVI CELL) via Zoom, a software-based platform for video and audio communications.

More than 153 participants registered for the launch and 54 signed up for USVI Business Resource Hub, which can be accessed through an app by phone or a computer to easily find a free, comprehensive directory of support services, mentors, online peer networks, calendars of events and many more that are based in the USVI.

“This is a great resource, not only for small businesses but for individuals interested in becoming business owners and to help them succeed in the territory,” said Ted Gutierrez, state director of the VI SBDC.

Lily Shaw, director of client experience, Startup Space, gave an extensive demonstration on how stakeholders and businesses can register for Startup Space, an in-depth overview about USVI Business Resource Hub and all its offerings.

Innovative features on this platform include:

A profile section that displays an individual’s interests, their spoken languages, professional expertise and interests, and options to update and edit a profile.

COVID-19 resources include webinars, updates and support from leading agencies during this time.

A community hub which allows users to build, or be a part of, a business community that shares challenges and experiences, network and build relationships in real-time; seeks mentorships, events, community-curated podcasts; and finds resources across a diverse group of agencies through a knowledge center.

Participants also engaged in one-on-one sessions with representatives of supporting agencies.   Wayne L. Biggs Jr., chief executive officer of VIEDA, interviewed Commissioner Richard T. Evangelista of the V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) for a special fireside chat highlighted topics ranging from Evangelista’s insights about the pandemic’s impact on the USVI business community and his suggestions on pivoting a business in these challenging times to remain sustainable.

Representatives from the VIEDA met David Ponraj, founder and CEO of Startup Space, at the International Economic Development Council’s Annual Conference in 2019 and began conversations about bringing this platform to the USVI to assist the VI business community.

Other agency representatives present for the launch included, but were not limited to, Shanell Petersen, managing director, Marketing and Vision 2040, VIEDA; Monique T. Samuel, acting director of Lending, VIEDA’s Economic Development Bank; Horace Graham Jr., director of licensing, VI DLCA; Suzanne Darrow-Magras, Ph.D., director, UVI CELL; and Caroline Polydore-Simon, marketing manager, UVI CELL.

For more information, contact Shanell Petersen, managing director, Marketing and Vision 2040, at [email protected].