CHARLOTTE AMALIE, US Virgin Islands – In observance of National Economic Development Week, held May 9 – 13, 2022, 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 USVI 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, St Croix Renaissance Park; Rich Difede, Owner, Gold Coast Yachts; Lisa Hamilton, president, VI Hotel & Tourism Association; and Akeel St. Jean, Esq., president, St Croix Chamber of Commerce. The panel was moderated by VIEDA 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 to 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.
VIEDA’s chief executive officer, 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.”