In observance of National Economic Development Week, May 9 – 13, the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) released a virtual panel discussion featuring local industry leaders. The 40-minute presentation titled “Leveraging Public / Private Partnerships to Invigorate USVI Business Investment” details how economic development programs and incentives enabled growth in four vital business sectors of the U.S. Virgin Islands economy.
A frank conversation — between tourism, manufacturing, technology and energy and small business sectors — delved into issues businesses face. Representing the various business segments were panelists Zakaria Jehangir, president of St. Croix Renaissance Park; Rich Difede, owner of Gold Coast Yachts; Lisa Hamilton, president of VI Hotel & Tourism Association; and Akeel St. Jean Esq., president of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce. The panel was moderated by VIEDA’s CEO Wayne L. Biggs Jr.
Each discussed how VIEDA programs and incentives have proven beneficial to their industry as well as contributed to the development and growth of existing and new businesses in the territory. For instance, tourism-focused incentive programs have resulted in the rebuilding of two large-scale hurricane ravaged resorts on St. Thomas.
Further, it is anticipated that VIEDA’s trade zone program coupled with a world-class container port on St. Croix would increase the manufacturing and assembly of products with a “Made in the USA” designation. The USVI tax incentives were also credited with making investment in the territory financially attractive.
Though government automation was applauded for speeding the licensing approval and renewal process, the panel offered insights on areas for business future development. These include reviewing the excise tax system, energizing workforce development to expand career opportunities for the local population and embracing alternative energy by extending renewable tax credits and energy sharing initiatives for businesses and residences.
CEO Wayne Biggs Jr. initiated the video project to highlight successes and identify areas where public-private partnerships can continue to positively affect business growth in the USVI.
“The VIEDA is dedicated to attracting and supporting businesses for long-term success with the overall health of the community at the forefront. Our goal is to provide a pro-business public/private sector partnership to accelerate economic growth and development. With our resilient and hardened infrastructure, the USVI presents a rare opportunity for innovative business investment,” said Biggs.
Economic Development Week was created in 2016 by the International Economic Development Council — the largest international professional trade association for economic developers — to increase awareness for local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities, and improve the quality of life in communities everywhere.
For a full recap of the virtual events released, visit VIEDA’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and/or Twitter pages, or go to the VIEDA’s website at https://www.usvieda.org/economic-development-week-2022.