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How Do We Move the Territory Forward Economically?

The question has been asked in some form or fashion in every corner of the USVI. We all fully understand that there are no silver bullets or panaceas to solving the economic challenges that we face. However, our current economic challenges provide an opportunity to take our Territory to the next level economically, if we work together diligently, wisely, and collectively. We must seize our economic future as nothing is guaranteed to us and nothing should be left to luck regarding the future of the Territory.

It is essential for our community to be actively engaged in charting and constructing the economic road map of the USVI. The level of involvement and motivation of our community and the willingness for all stakeholders to consider innovative thinking and strategies to give the Territory a competitive advantage in a global economy will ultimately determine our economic success. The efforts of the entire community are necessary to address the threats that we face. To transform our threats into opportunities, we must raise the bar of excellence and strive to be the best in order to foster economic development.

We also need to focus on deriving value from our differing perspectives and capabilities of all members of our community whether they are physically in Territory or located elsewhere in the world. We must engage and mobilize Virgin Islanders across the globe to assist in addressing our economic challenges. Today’s technology allows us to work and collaborate with each other anywhere in the world, regardless of location. There is huge value in harnessing those perspectives and realizing the net value of the entire USVI global community. Collaborative networks must pull together for individuals and our society to prosper.

Together, our best minds must address the needs of global markets, distribution and supply chains, competition, and other global challenges in a holistic manner. We are constantly inundated with new and dynamic economic uncertainties as emerging and established industries compete around the globe. A number of jurisdictions around the world are beginning to turn to an approach coined “Megacommunity” (Mark Gerencser, 2008) a public sphere in which public, private, and civic organizations join together to deal with urgent issues of mutual importance and interest.

The Megacommunity approach could provide a greater adaptability, allowing the entire community to call on an ever-expanding network of resources, capabilities, and talents to tackle our urgent economic issues. The Megacommunity is a proven approach that encompasses steps such as Laying the Ground Work, Convening Initiators, Initiating the Megacommunity, Establishing the Megacommunity, and Moving to Action and Sustainability.
An initial guiding principle of a Megacommunity is creating a shared and comprehensive vision for the Territory.

We need a comprehensive vision that inspires and guides planning and action at the global, national, regional, and local levels. The vision should be a living framework that describes what could be achieved, expected timelines, and how success will be measured. It must also define new mechanisms including public/private partnerships that engage government, industry and other community organizations. We will not solve our problems with quick/hot fixes and stop gap measures. The Territory must envision its economic future to meet the needs of its citizens and businesses in a future that is proliferated with both opportunities and competitive challenges.

We can envision an excellent economic ecosystem in the USVI that the Territory can utilize to attract and grow top-tier industries that can compete successfully globally, nationally, regionally, and locally. In addition, we can envision an entrepreneurial class in the Virgin Islands that can build and sustain businesses and compete to win in the global marketplace. We must focus our vision on building our economic ecosystem for this century and not for the last century.

Our envisioned economic future needs to account for the changing global demographics, market opportunities, inherent challenges, and changing market conditions. The opportunity lies in this moment to roll up our sleeves and join as one United States Virgin Islands to become an economic leader in the Caribbean region and globally. This is possible if we move as one heartbeat.

Editor’s note: Bernard Dyer is a commentator on the “WSTX 970 Community Digest Radio Program.”

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