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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, July 19, 2024


A group of local water processors on Friday spoke before the Industrial Development Commission against the application for benefits of a Florida-based water treatment company.
James D. Walker, president and chief executive officer of TSG Technologies, told the commission extending benefits to his firm would allow it to expand and provide job opportunities for young Virgin Islanders. But commissioners questioned Walker about how many people actually would be needed to operate the company's desalination and waste water treatment technology.
And officials from three local firms .-Aqua Design, Poly Caribe and Seven Seas Water Corp.-said extending benefits to TSG would put them out of business.
"Benefiting one member of our industry wouldn't increase the size of the pie we have to split up. It would just give an off-island company competitive advantages at the expense of V.I. companies," said Robert Bergstrom, president of Seven Seas Water Corp.
TSG helped set up a new desalination system for the St. John Westin Resort, Walker said, and had acquired a 10-year contract to operate and maintain the equipment. The company had also secured an agreement to run equipment for the Sapphire Beach Resort on St. Thomas and assisted Texaco with the cleanup of Tutu Wells.
Commissioners expressed skepticism about several aspects of TSG's application, including the rationale given for making applications under two different company names. Walker said the split made bank loans easier to come by.
"I'm totally confused as to why they are before the commission for benefits," said Chairman Rafael Jackson.
Two other applications, by MOF Limited Partnership d/b/a American Yacht Harbor, and Kenzie Global Asset Management, a securities firm with offices in Chicago, were also heard. An official for MOF said the company wants to upgrade the yacht harbor at a cost of some $1.5 million. A Kenzie representative promised to hire more than two dozen V.I. residents if the firm relocates.
The fourth applicant, Gordon Ackley of Wireless World, offered the IDC a glimpse of things to come in telecommunications.
Internet communication driven through telephone modems is almost obsolete on the U.S. mainland, he said, and communications systems drawing their signals through antennae will draw high-tech industries to the territory.
Ackley said with the help of IDC benefits he hoped to provide enough infrastructure to make the Virgin Islands 90 to 95 percent ready for 2-way, high-speed Internet, digital telephone and telephone communications within 18 months.
IDC Director Frandelle Gerard said the four applicants who appeared before the commission Friday join about 16 other companies awaiting decisions on eligibility for tax benefits. After the hearings, the board met privately to grant final approval to five other companies.
Those decisions would not be revealed, Gerard said, until each company and Government House are notified.

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