The territory will net $7.8 million in federal funding through a National Emergency Grant to help with the spike in unemployment due to the closing of the Hovensa refinery, according to the office of Delegate Donna Christensen.
“This is one of the first major funding to be received by the territory in the wake of the Hovensa closing,” Christensen said in a statement, congratulating V.I. Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan for the successful application.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, $3.6 million will be released immediately.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. said the grant should provide comfort to laid off workers "trying to figure out what to do next." With the grant in place, "We can tell them we have the financial resources to assist their professional transition."
"I would like to thank Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and the Obama Administration for keeping their promise to provide timely assistance for the territory as it faces a major economic challenge,” Christensen said.
In a statement from his office, deJongh also thanked Assistant Secretary of the Interior Anthony Babauta and Christensen for theri support with obtaining the grant for Labor.
National Emergency Grants temporarily expand the service capacity of Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker training and employment programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events which cause significant job losses, according to Christensen's office.
The grants generally provide resources to state and local workforce investment boards to quickly reemploy laid-off workers by offering training to increase occupational skills. This funding will provide employment-related services to about 1,235 workers affected by the closure of Hovensa and layoffs at 17 of its subcontractors, all located in the island of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, according to Christensen.