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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, March 1, 2024


After a full day of speeches and talking, speakers at the end of Thursday's Economic Summit said the key to solving the territory's economic crisis is "implementation," not more talk.
Other points made over and over:
— Private-sector development is crucial to economic development.
— There has to be a real partnership between the private and public sector.
— Action on plans must be swift and must have the consensus of everyone involved.
— There has to be a change of attitude about the role of government in the Virgin Islands.
A few new action plans emerged too.
Gordon Finch, executive director of the V.I. Port Authority, said he's attempting to waive landing fees for scheduled airlines that bring additional flights into the
territory. And acting Tourism Commissioner Clement "Cain" Magras said he wants
to include Anti-litter and Beautification under the Tourism Department to give some teeth to enhancing the islands' tourism product.
Finch said his idea about forfeiting fees to bring in more airline seats would apply to additional flights brought in by airlines already serving the territory. He said he is close to determining if this is feasible.
Magras pointed out the Film Promotion Office has lured films, commercials and music videos to the Virgin Islands despite having only one staffer. He suggested the office could generate a lot more revenues for the territory given proper support.
One thing suggested by Dr. Marc A. Weiss, guest speaker at the luncheon, was creation of a highly visible economic development agency to aggressively pursue investors to the territory.
Early in the day, Amadeo I.D. Francis, director of the Public Finance Authority,
pointed out the territory has stiff competition for investors from communities all over the world.
At the end of the day, "implementation" became the word of the day when Dr. Richard W. Moore, consulting economist, said there were plans going back to the 1800s, but they all failed when it came to implementation.
Weiss piggybacked Moore's remarks, repeating what he had said earlier: that a change of mindset has to occur. He said in his development of an economic development strategy for Washington, D.C., he had to identify key actions and then reach a consensus among "shareholders" to support and implement the actions.
Rudolph Krigger Sr., assistant to the governor, agreed the mindset had to
change for the people of the Virgin Islands.
He said "we need to start thinking about private sector employment" instead of counting on the government as the primary employer in the territory.
He also said there had to be a greater effort at entrepreneurship. He cited the fact that the V.I. Taxi Association had done nothing to develop a water taxi service, which he said could be a good business for some young "M.B.A."
Much of what was said Thursday has been said before. But the overwhelming consensus about what needs to happen now that is different
is cooperation, change of attitudes and definitive and immediate action.

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