USVI Research and Technology Park Receives Excellence in Economic Development Award

The Research and Technology Park on UVI's St. Croix campus(File photo)
The Research and Technology Park on UVI’s St. Croix campus (File photo)

The U.S. Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park Corporation, which is an independent affiliate of the University of the Virgin Islands, this week received the International Economic Development Council’s Economic Development Organization of the Year Award.

The honor was presented at an awards ceremony during the IEDC Annual Conference, which gathers over 1,400 economic development professionals from around the country.

“We’re honored and humbled to receive such significant recognition from IEDC. Being selected as EDO of the Year is a resounding validation of the RTPark’s evolution over these past two years into a truly comprehensive tech-focused economic development organization that is having a measurable impact on the Virgin Islands economy. This award is also a testament to the dynamic and talented team of professionals we’ve attracted to the RTPark since 2018,” said Peter H. Chapman, executive director and CEO of the RTPark.

IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. Thirty-five award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers from around the world. IEDC received over 500 submissions from four countries. The RTPark was the Gold Award recipient for EDO of the Year with a population size of 25,000 – 200,000.

The RTPark is an innovative economic development organization established in 2002 to help diversify and expand the U.S. Virgin Islands’ economy through efforts to promote the attraction, retention, and growth of technology, knowledge-based and sustainable agriculture-related firms within the territory.

The RTPark also works to broaden the capabilities of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) by providing the university with financial support and training opportunities for UVI students.

Newly launched programs include the USVI’s first accelerator for tech startups, Accelerate VI, which has supported 14 startups thus far, and VI STEM Kids, which is a coding program for youth from low-moderate income homes. The RTPark also launched an online database and network  called VISTA+ that connects tech talent within the Virgin Islands diaspora with opportunities to work in the territory.

“There is a stark difference between what the RTPark used to be and what it is now. With the renewed vision, locally and nationally connected staff, and a focus on making the right connections, national recognition like this is expected,” said Sen. DeGazon. “The award is well deserved as the RTPark continues to build a bridge to connect economic development, agriculture and STEM in the Virgin Islands. I am proud to be a partner and supporter of the RTPark, and look forward to applauding more accolades bestowed on this entity.”

Moreover, by continuing to involve the local community and local entrepreneurs in its programs/projects and developing talent that cares about local economic development, the RTPark has positioned itself as a model for economic development programs in the Caribbean and beyond.

Virgin Islander and Vice President of Global Markets at IBM, Rashida Hodge, recently partnered with the RTPark on the organization’s newly launched youth engagement program, VI STEM Kids.

“In a very short space of time, the RTPark has established itself as a highly professional organization, providing insightful, additive support to increasingly strong groups of entrepreneurs. The team really has done a remarkable job, and I can’t wait to see what’s next,” said Ferguson.

The RTPark has also been collaborating with several nationally recognized organizations whose partnerships have contributed to several RTPark programs’ substantial growth.

“We congratulate Peter, the UVI RT Park Board and staff on their receipt of the International for Economic Development Council’s 2020 Gold Award for Economic Development Organization of the Year.

The award is a testament to their visionary entrepreneurial spirit and unequivocally strong commitment to strengthen USVI economy and make the Islands an even better places to live, work, invest and pursue educations,” said Robert K. Jenkins Jr., Senior Manager at Renaissance Equity Partners, an advisory firm with a focus on investments in emerging domestic communities.

“NDC is proud to work with one of the most significant economic development initiatives in the Caribbean,” said Daniel Marsh, President of National Development Council. “Technology and knowledge-based job creation don’t just happen by itself. It requires a visionary organization like the RTPark.

“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the very best of economic development and exemplify the ingenuity, integrity, and leadership that our profession strives for each and every day,” said 2020 IEDC Board Chair and One Columbus CEO Kenny McDonald. “We’re

honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing campaigns, projects, and partnerships have measurably improved regional quality of life.”