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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 24, 2024


Nov. 22, 2001 — In order to have a new industry settle in the territory, an old one on St. Croix may literally lose some ground, senators were told on Wednesday.
For the University of the Virgin Islands to move ahead with its plans to build a technology park on St. Croix it would take about 200 acres. But on an island with only a limited amount of flat, government-owned land that can accommodate such a project, that means building on land traditionally used for agriculture, members of the Economic
Development, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Committee were told.
The land being eyed for the project sits between the Melvin Evans Highway and Queen
Mary Highway in the Middle Works and Bethlehem areas, according to Agriculture
Commissioner Henry Schuster. About 10 farmers currently lease land in the area from the Agriculture Department, he said.
"The university must be willing to compensate the displaced farmers," Schuster told senators.
Committee chairman Sen. Adelbert Bryan agreed, saying that the technology park bill will not proceed unless such language is incorporated into the legislation.
The technology park is envisioned to be a Silicon Valley-type community on St. Croix
where off-island high-tech businesses would hire up to 200 locals and improve the overall
economy of the territory. A main feature of the park would be the proximity of two high-speed fiber-optic communication links –– Global Crossing and AT&T –– that run
through the island.
Among the changes made to the bill by the committee, moved mostly by Bryan, include
language that ensures that progress on the technology park begins on St. Croix before St. Thomas. A revamping of the proposed board of directors for the technology park was also made, including the addition of three members of the Economic Development Authority.
Because UVI is proposing tax holidays for businesses that would settle in the technology park, the EDA’s Chief Executive Officer Frank Schulterbrandt said that it should be the agency to handle such an arrangement.
"Any proposed legislation to grant benefits should be under the EDA," he said.
The bill was also tweaked to include a $1 million appropriation from the General Fund to cover costs of the technology park’s first year of operations and the compensation of the dislocated farmers. The bill was forwarded to the Senate Rules Committee for further consideration.

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