81.4 F
Cruz Bay
Monday, February 6, 2023


Sept. 6, 2001 — The Port Authority unveiled an ambitious economic development plan for St. Croix at a sparsely attended public meeting Wednesday in Frederiksted.
The plan, now in draft form, was launched in May and is at the halfway point. There are some 80 projects outlined, based on an eight-point "action plan."
The draft sets out timetables for attaining a variety of objectives that include identifying St. Croix's assets, developing a marketing and promotional plan to attract new, high-tech industries, creating more jobs, and diversifying the economy.
The plan of action includes:
– Building pride in St. Croix community and culture.
– Improving safety in downtown areas.
– Establishing a culture of collaboration between the public and private sectors.
– Building gateways to St. Croix.
– Stopping the island’s "brain drain."
– Improving economic development effectiveness.
– Stimulating investment diversification on St. Croix.
– Developing and marketing a "St. Croix Commerce Center" to be operated by the Port Authority.
Different aspects of the plan are proposed to be carried out by a variety of public and private-sector groups and agencies in two time frames, 1-18 months and 19-36 months.
"What we are trying to shoot for is a plan that is workable," said Gordon Finch, Port Authority executive director.
Finch said Triad Associates, the consulting firm developing the plan, has presented the draft to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull. Involvement from the executive branch will be crucial in carrying out many aspects of the plan, Finch said, including a proposal to develop 100 acres of Port Authority land adjacent to the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport into a business park for light industry.
Finch said the U.S. Economic Development Agency, which funded the bulk of the economic development plan at $300,000, has approved funding for preliminary engineering for the industrial park.
"The only place in the territory that significant economic development is going to occur is St. Croix," because St. Thomas is built to capacity, Finch said.
He said future increases in cruise ship and air arrivals also will be on St. Croix.
"The growth of those kinds of economic engines" will be determined in part "by what St. Croix has to offer," he said.
According to the draft plan, for that growth to occur, and for many of St. Croix’s residents to lift themselves out of below-average living standards, several basic institutions need to be improved, particularly education.
Richard Moore, Triad’s economist, said that the "weakest link in the Virgin Islands is labor," and that weakness can be addressed only by improving the education system.
"Without an education base, you can’t mold your labor force," Moore said.
Finch concurred, calling the state of public education in the territory "abysmal."
Meanwhile, of the 10 or so people in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting, Arnold Golden asked who was going to spearhead the plan. "We don’t have a mayor," he said. "Who is going to lead this?"
Finch said that while the Port Authority will be deeply involved in aspects of the plan where the agency is identified, he is "too stretched" to take the lead.
To that end, Triad is recommending that a "Team St. Croix" be assembled by the various stakeholders, and that it then form a leadership committee.
The draft plan is available at the Port Authority office at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. The final plan is to be completed by the end of September.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.