During the V.I. Economic Development Authority board meeting on Tuesday, several matters were addressed pertaining to application and compliance matters for the Enterprise Zone Commission, the EDA’s annual report, and an extension of tax benefits for a film project.
Chief Executive Officer Wayne Biggs Jr. briefly discussed the Developmental Authority’s annual report, citing key financial figures from the last two years.
“In the fiscal year 2021, we managed about $900,000 worth of grants. In the fiscal year 2022, that was increased to about $4.3 million. Over that two-year period, roughly $5.2 million dollars was garnered in grants that went directly into the community here,” said Biggs.
He added that a five-year projection of $93.7 million would be brought into the tax base for the territory if the assisted entities meet their financial projections. During the two-year period, $1.5 million worth of grants were also managed by the Enterprise Zone Commission.
Another item on the agenda for the EDA pertained to a time extension for Silent Drift, LLC, an entity that requested tax incentive benefits for the production of a film. The Sustainable Tourism through Arts-based Revenue Stream Act, or STARS, works to advertise and promote the Virgin Islands as an ideal location for major and minor film productions and music/audio recording projects.
“At a decision meeting on July 22, 2021, the USVI EDA approved Silent Drift’s STARS Act application and allowed the qualified production to commence no later than 180 days after the issuance of certificate and expire 180 days thereafter,” said Rosa Thomas, assistant chief executive officer.
According to Thomas, in March 2022, Silent Drift requested an extension of 150 days to complete their film due to COVID-19, delays in sponsorship training, and travel for crew members. In May, the board approved the extension and in August received a second extension petition to November. In November, they received a third extension petition from Silent Drift, asking for May 2023.
The board went into an executive session to discuss the matter and after, unanimously approved a time extension for Silent Drift to September.
Later, the Enterprise Zone Commission provided its annual report and voted on several application and compliance matters.
According to EZC Director Nadine Marchena Kean, 2023 core projects for the EZC include working on the Marcelli, Frederiksted, Jarvis, and Moorhead Facility projects, reviving the EntrepreNOW program, completing the first phase of the Abandoned Property Probate Project, managing the Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources through the State Historic Preservation Office for rejuvenating hurricane damaged buildings, and launching the South Shore Trade Zone.
The board later voted and approved tax exemption applications for DM Hospitality, LLC plan program at #4 Wimmelskafts Gade in the Savanne-Downstreet Enterprise Zone, the Wanda Belardo plan program at #102 Richmond in the Christiansted Enterprise Zone, and the Alda Monsanto rejuvenation project at #9AB Regjerings Gade in the Savanne-Downstreet Enterprise Zone.
The board also approved the Zack Zook modification request for 81C Kronprindsens Gade in the Savanne-Downstreet Enterprise Zone and approved a five-year property tax extension for George Cannon at #71 Queen St., and Juanita Fergus at #19B and # 20 Strand St., both in the Frederiksted Enterprise Zone.
In addition, the board terminated the tax benefits of Janine Ottley and withdrew her eligibility for #5 Adel Gade in the Garden Street-Upstreet Enterprise Zone. Likewise, the tax benefits of Lydia Rodriguez’s eligibility were withdrawn from #45 King St. in the Frederiksted Enterprise Zone.
Members Kevin Rodriguez, Jose Penn, Philip Payne, Anise Hodge, and Positive Nelson were present for the meeting.