USVIEDA Open House Assists Enterprise Zone Residents and Local Businesses

Mabel J. Maduro (right), owner of MJM Designs, describes one of her crafted pillows to USVIEDA Acting Chief Executive Officer Wayne L. Biggs Jr. during the Enterprise Zone Commission Open House on April 25. MJM Designs produces authentic art and jewelry. (Photo courtesy of the USVIEDA)

Several people took time to learn about federal and local economic development programs offered by the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA) during the ongoing festivities of the 2018 Virgin Islands Cultural and Food Fair. A USVIEDA Open House was held on Wednesday, April 25, at E’s Garden Teahouse and Things on St. Thomas. The Garden Teahouse is a small business that is a client of the Economic Development Bank, and it is located in the enterprise zone of Garden Street.

“Once again, the USVIEDA, through the efforts and work of the Enterprise Zone Commission (EZC), has embraced another opportunity to reach out to the community to inform and educate individuals about programs that can assist them in attaining their goals of entrepreneurship and helping to revitalizing our distressed neighborhoods,” said USVIEDA Acting Chief Executive Officer Wayne L. Biggs Jr.

During the four-hour Open House, USVIEDA staff members consistently engaged with visitors at the resource table by sharing valuable information about federal and local economic development programs with attendees who learned about:

  • the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), made possible by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (US-SBA), for local small manufacturers that are interested in exporting locally-made products to foreign countries,
  • programs that offer tax exemptions and tax credits to rehabilitate properties in enterprise zones, and
  • other USVIEDA programs that offer businesses tax incentives, low-interest loans and affordable commercial spaces for lease at local industrial parks.

Some attendees also met one-on-one with USVIEDA staff members to discuss various economic development programs.

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The EZC led a trivia game show during which Open House attendees displayed their knowledge about what they already knew, or recently learned, about the USVIEDA and its programs. Attendees had a chance to enjoy a variety of teas and local soups while purchasing products from local small businesses.

Inside the teahouse, nine local vendors represented a variety of industries displaying products for sale including posters and post cards; handcrafted wooden plaques and coasters; embossed aluminum design and artwork; mocko jumbie painted tiles; acrylic canvas bags; local drinks, butter cookies and seasonings; jewelry; and clothing.

The EZC assists residents and local, small-business owners with rehabilitating and restoring areas that are designated as enterprise zones, which are locations in the territory considered to be blighted and distressed neighborhoods but were once vibrant centers of economic activity.   The enterprise zones in the territory are Garden Street-UpStreet and Savanne-Downstreet on St. Thomas, and Frederiksted and Christiansted on St. Croix.

For more information, contact Raheem Smith, enterprise zone specialist, at 714-1700, ext. 253; or Marchena Kean, EZC Commission director, at ext. 256.

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