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Friday, October 7, 2022


Despite concerns about the potential effectiveness of the Economic Summit and grandstanding by the usual detractors, the private sector made a strong case Friday for immediate action on recommendations made at the conference.
And Gov. Charles W. Turnbull told participants that many suggestions can be implemented immediately, and don't have to wait for formal action plans.
John deJongh, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, said the summit's most important outcome must be "what will happen at 7 o'clock tonight."
DeJongh admitted that the chamber had considered not participating in the two-day summit, which Friday took place on St. Croix.
After receiving assurances from the legislators that a committee would be formed to make recommendations and that the Legislature would use those recommendations to draft legislation, and further assurances from the governor that he would include the suggestions in his five-year plan, the chamber decided to take part.
Under a verbal hammering by Naomi Joseph, an official of the Police Benevolent Association, about why the hotels depended on the government for advertising money, Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, said that the hoteliers didn't depend on the government. Doumeng pointed out that members of the association had independently and collectively spent millions of dollars advertising and promoting the destination and the hotel properties.
"If we had waited for the government to advertise…we'd already be out of here," Doumeng said.
Nadine Marchena-Thomas, assistant director of the Industrial Development Commission, echoed speakers at Thursday's meeting, saying more talk about solutions was not what was needed.
"We already have the solutions," Thomas said citing studies and "solutions" going back to the 1970s. Thomas used the same word that was used over and over Thursday: implementation.
She also recommended consolidation of all economic development agencies under one roof, sharing staff and resources.
Most speakers seemed to agree that without action, reports and suggestions are meaningless.
Editor's note: See earlier story on Thursday's summit session.

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