A Saturday small business expo is offering participants a business-to-business opportunity to display goods and services. The event, called Shop Local, Promote the Economy, is being staged in the heart of Charlotte Amalie at Fort Christian.
Small businesses make up a sizable portion of the V.I. economy. In 2020, the Bureau of Economic Research issued a profile of territorial businesses. In that report, the bureau said there were 2.514 small establishments engaged in business and commerce.
This year’s expo is a second go-round for promoter Janette Millin-Young. A former V.I. lawmaker, she said the expo is more than a collection of displays with visitors stopping by.
That approach came from lessons learned from the 2022 expo, Millin-Young said. “What I found was a great need to provide a forum for small businesses … When I do my shows, I work to bring people together.”
The range of businesses featured at the show range from budding entrepreneurs — a local producer of lip gloss — to thriving specialty product vendors, including one that offers popcorn-spiked adult beverages. What they have in common is the need to generate repeat customers.
Networking is encouraged among the exhibitors. “All of my business events have a networking component. You can get business services if you’re doing some business planning. You can get business cards,” Millin-Young said.
Government agencies and business consultants will also be there with advice and planning tips for the year to come. Among the agencies setting up shop at Fort Christian on Saturday are the Internal Revenue Bureau, the Labor Department and the University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park.
A representative from the Economic Development Authority will also be on hand to explain their agency’s small business initiatives. The EDA is currently sponsoring a Shop Local Pop-Up holiday shop on St. Croix, designed to promote the work of local artisans and encourage spending to support the local economy.