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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 13, 2024


St. Thomas residents get their turn Wednesday night to share their thoughts on developing a federally mandated economic plan for the territory. The V.I. Bureau of Economic Research is hosting the second of four public hearings from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Legislature's conference room.
Residents from St. John – many of whom said they had insufficient notice of last week's hearing on that island – are also invited, said Lauritz Mills, bureau director. She described the first meeting as "small but instructive."
St. Croix hearings will be Oct. 18 at the Legislature in Frederiksted and Oct. 25 at the Florence Williams Library in Christiansted.
The plan is a requirement of the U.S. Economic Development Agency, which sends millions of dollars each year to the territory for projects that receive recommendations from the V.I. Bureau of Economic Research. The last time hearings were held on a comprehensive plan was 1992.
To formulate the current plan, the bureau is gathering information from virtually all local government departments and agencies, Mills said. She had hoped to have a draft ready to distribute before the public hearings, but a few agencies have not yet replied.
"We're building on the Five Year Plan" that the governor's task force unveiled this spring, Mills said. Many of those task force members also serve on the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee, a private-public sector group working with the bureau. Many of the same aspects will be in both plans.
However, she said the EDA plan is broader as it addresses such socioeconomic issues as housing and waste water treatment, rather than just on raising revenues and cutting expenditures.
The territory's final plan "has to be to EDA by (the end of) December," Mills said. She is shooting for Dec. 30.
Meanwhile, the bureau experienced firsthand the fallout from the territory's fiscal crisis Tuesday. The strategy committee was to elect new officers Tuesday afternoon but had to postpone its meeting because many of its members who are heads of departments were called to an emergency meeting at Government House regarding the looming teachers' strike.

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