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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 24, 2024


Nov. 2, 2001 – Delegate Donna Christian Christensen has signed on as one of the participants in a Nov. 10 round-table discussion of the territory's economic future that's being sponored by the V.I. Democratic Action Club and organized by Sen. Lorraine Berry.
At the free, public program, to be held at the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel on St. Thomas, Christensen will explain how the economic stimulus package currently before Congress would affect the Virgin Islands
A dozen other voices representing the territory's private, public and academic sectors will take part in the discussions. Berry's objective for them is to come up with ideas to counteract the debilitating effects on the local economy since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"We can't rely on tourism any longer," Berry said, noting that not only hotels but restaurants, retail shops and the whole V.I. economy are suffering. "We have to diversify the economy. We have to come up with ideas to encourage businesses to locate in the Virgin Islands. My hope is that bringing these stakeholders together will develop direction, give us some ideas about where we are going."
Berry said Gov. Sila Calderon in Puerto Rico "already has gotten an economic stimulus package to the legislature which has been signed into law to get things going to bolster their economy." She added, "It's amazing to me, because I don't know of anything we have done."
Puerto Rico's new legislation includes tax exemptions for time shares and support for businesses involved in technology and research, Berry said. Expressing strong support for the University of the Virgin Islands proposal to develop a research and technological park, she added, "It's the way we have to go — bring technological companies here."
When she chaired the Senate Finance Committee in the 23rd Legislature, Berry said, the committee spearheaded legislation calling for reform of the territory's industrial development program. The result was the creation of the Economic Development Authority, which she said has attracted new technological and financial firms to the territory.
"We have to find more ways to encourage companies to relocate," Berry stressed.
She has said that in addition to offering tax incentives to attract investment, the territory must focus on meeting the technological infrastructure needs of those businesses and on preparing Virgin Islanders for jobs of the future.
In addition to Christensen, those taking part in the round table will be John deJongh Jr., president, St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce; Carmelo Rivera, president, St. Croix Chamber of Commerce; Richard Doumeng, president, St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association; Wendell Snider, presideint, St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association; Susan Chandler, president, V.I. Charter Yacht League; Richard Moore, economist; Simon Jones-Hendrickson, UVI economics professor; Neil Weiss, businessman; Bruce Tizes, chief executive, Galt Capital; Juanita Young, comptroller, Globalvest Management Co.; Marjorie Roberts, tax attorney; and Dean Plaskett, chair, Economic Development Authority board.
Berry said she's still looking for a moderator for the discussion. She said she has ruled herself out, so as to "depoliticize" the position.
The presentation is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10. There's no advance registration. A raffle will be held to raise funds to cover the cost of the room and the refreshments that will be served. For more information, call 693-3507.

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