EDA Delays Tax Break Decisions, Raises Concerns about Dilapidated Buildings in Enterprise Zones

The Economic Development Authority’s Enterprise and Commercial Zone Commission director emphasized to commission members Thursday that a lack of government funds puts a hindrance on the commission’s goal of revitalizing blighted and distressed communities on the islands.

Nadine Marchena Kean said, “How do you tell owners of private buildings what they must do when public buildings are deteriorating?”

Kean was more positive reporting on two programs that address that and another problem concerning buildings in the zones. She said buildings frequently have many heirs rather than one owner who can make decisions for the properties, indicating in an earlier public statement that it is not unusual for a small building that has been owned by the same family for generations to have upwards of 50 joint owners.

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Those programs are “Scrap and Paint” and “Save a Building,” and Kean said she has spoken to people from Denmark who are considering helping with the “Save a Building” program and that when she is presenting a paper in Denmark in June, she will be contacting those potential donors again.

The territory’s enterprise zones are Christiansted and Frederiksted on St. Croix and Savan-Downstreet and Garden Street–Upstreet in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

Kean said the commission was seeking legislative approval to expand the enterprise zones on St. Thomas and to make a commercial zone for St. John’s Cruz Bay.

The commission was established in 1999 and the zones enacted in 2000.

The Economic Development Bank, which like the Enterprise Zone Commission is operated under the Economic Development Authority, also met Thursday, approving a request from Gasaway Service Station and Mini Mart.

The Development Bank provides financial and technical assistance to local small and medium-sized businesses. The decision was made in executive session and details were not immediately available to the media.

A decision meeting of the EDA was also scheduled for Thursday; however, during the executive session, the group lost its quorum so no decisions could be made. The meeting will be rescheduled for next week.

Companies that will be under consideration for the EDA tax breaks at that meeting will be Carambola Zipline, Castle Harian, Margaritaville Vacation Club, ProTouch Communication, Tramway properties and Air Ambulance Caribbean.

According to the EDA brochure, the benefits that can be offered to a company it approves are:

– a 90 percent reduction in local corporate income tax payments;

– a 90 percent reduction in personal income tax on corporate dividends;

– a 100 percent exemption from property tax;

– a 100 percent exemption from gross receipt taxes

– reduction in custom duty taxes from 6 percent to 1 percent

– and a 100 percent exemption from excise taxes on raw materials and component parts.

The meetings were held at the William D. Roebuck Industrial Park at No. 4 Negro Bay, Frederiksted, St. Croix, and via video conference feed to the 8000 Nisky Shopping Center, Suite No. 620, St. Thomas.

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