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TECHNOLOGY PARK PLAN MOVING AHEAD

Nov. 23, 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.
The University of the Virgin Islands will need about 200 acres of land to move ahead with its plans to build a technology park on St. Croix. On an island with a limited amount of flat, government-owned property 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 and Queen Mary Highways 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.
Sen. Adelbert Bryan, the committee chair, 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 attraction 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.
Changes made to the bill by the committee, moved mostly by Bryan, included language to ensure that progress on the technology park begins on St. Croix, and not St. Thomas. The proposed board of directors for the venture was revamped to add three members of the Economic Development Authority.
Because UVI is proposing tax holidays for businesses that set up in the technology park, the EDA’s chief executive officer, Frank Schulterbrandt, said his agency should handle such arrangements.
"Any proposed legislation to grant benefits should be under the EDA," he said.
The committee added a $1 million appropriation from the General Fund to the bill to cover costs of the technology park’s first year of operation and compensation for the farmers to be dislocated. The bill was forwarded to the Senate Rules Committee.

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Nov. 23, 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.
The University of the Virgin Islands will need about 200 acres of land to move ahead with its plans to build a technology park on St. Croix. On an island with a limited amount of flat, government-owned property 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 and Queen Mary Highways 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.
Sen. Adelbert Bryan, the committee chair, 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 attraction 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.
Changes made to the bill by the committee, moved mostly by Bryan, included language to ensure that progress on the technology park begins on St. Croix, and not St. Thomas. The proposed board of directors for the venture was revamped to add three members of the Economic Development Authority.
Because UVI is proposing tax holidays for businesses that set up in the technology park, the EDA’s chief executive officer, Frank Schulterbrandt, said his agency should handle such arrangements.
"Any proposed legislation to grant benefits should be under the EDA," he said.
The committee added a $1 million appropriation from the General Fund to the bill to cover costs of the technology park’s first year of operation and compensation for the farmers to be dislocated. The bill was forwarded to the Senate Rules Committee.