Growing a Dynamic Business Sector

Develop a prosperous and diversified economy by expanding opportunities for small, medium and corporate business investments. Promote, expand and leverage tax incentives to attract new businesses. Institute job creation and skill training programs.

Challenges

  • Slow business processes: Individuals and businesses have complained for years about the lengthy and cumbersome permitting and licensing processes which serve to discourage new businesses from coming to the territory, and delay projects and funding contracts.
  • Slow business processes: Individuals and businesses have complained for years about the lengthy and cumbersome permitting and licensing processes which serve to discourage new businesses from coming to the territory, and delay projects and funding contracts.
  • High unemployment: A lack of jobs, job training and workforce development initiatives for students and unemployed workers. Unemployment, under-employment, lack of technical and vocational skills training continue to affect those who are unemployed. The consequences have been psychological, mental, and financial, and have contributed to the rise in delinquency and criminal activities.
  • Burdensome debt: Slow growth and high debt burdens negatively impact economic growth. Without the creation of new revenue streams, such as aggressively attracting new business and investments, revenues will continue to stagnate.  We have an urgent need to rebuild our image in the financial world and bond market, and as a viable business destination with excellent incentives.
  • Poor management and reporting of federal grants and expenditures: The ongoing cry from our federal partners indicate that we continue a detrimental cycle of under-reporting, delayed reporting, poor monitoring and compliance issues, and poor spending to meet the requisite agreed-upon time and task lines which negatively affects disbursements.
  • Communities in decline: Blighted communities across the territory were worsened by the storms and continue to have failing infrastructure, lack of adequate housing, poor technology access, and high utility rates. Inadequate medical clinics, less than fully staffed and sourced hospitals, schools, and other critical needs remain key concerns.

Solutions

Some of the solutions the Petrus-Sanes Administration envisions tackling
from Day One:

 

Address Structural Deficit Concerns
  • Address bond market ratings by seeking solutions to alleviate federal concerns and incorporate relevant lessons learned from jurisdictions such as Puerto Rico, Detroit, and others who have lifted themselves out of economic distress and changed their trajectory for the better.
  • Review and advocate for areas of earned income credit and other tax reform initiatives that signal critical tax losses to the local Treasury from the federal government.
  • Develop a plan with the assistance and input of an array of citizens and financial experts to draft and begin implementation of an economic recovery agenda uniquely targeted to each island’s brand and capacity.
Business Development
  • Establish the Office of Business Development in the Office of the Governor to expedite business attraction, permitting, and other needs. Collaborate with the EDC to promote and aggressively market our incentives and to promote local entrepreneurship, and small business development within the EDC program.
  • Nurture local entrepreneurs by providing financial and other business development and tax incentives and instituting a system of scaling gross receipt taxes during their first three years.
  • Encourage more business establishment in targeted economic and empowerment zones and in blighted areas across the territory.
  • Create a Delaware-type corporation structure to enable online registration and incorporation of new businesses thereby building additional revenues streams.
  • Create a Marijuana business incubator for the purpose of developing medical marijuana.
Economic Initiatives
  • Develop proactive and uniquely reflective 24/7 downtown revitalization plans by creating specific targeted incentives for more downtown business operators, restaurants, nightclubs, and tourism activities.
  • Aggressively work with currently closed hotels to fast-forward their reopening by providing assistance in clearance of materials and goods, and expediting permitting and construction processes.
  • Design and implement a plan that encourages mixed-use working and living development in downtown areas much like the town of Old San Juan, Washington D.C., and other harbor cities.
  • Undertake and create public/private partnerships for replacing and developing new housing to meet the needs of current and future residents, including those affected by the recent hurricanes.
  • Lease unused/abandoned government buildings, especially in downtown areas and main street districts, as mixed-use facilities.
  • Encourage the development of more boutique hotels and specialty bed-and-breakfast businesses, and policies that support local entrepreneurs by “buying local, hiring local.”
  • Address development on Water Island and develop a balanced growth plan for St. John.
  • Support and restart the Long Bay Landing cruise ship pier.
A focused strategy for St. Croix – Revitalizing St. Croix from the ground up: 
  • Boost marketing initiatives for cruise and airlift investments, particularly on St. Croix.
  • Prioritize the infrastructure development and economic revitalization of the St. Croix to expand hotel, cruise and airlift capacity.
  • Revitalizing both Frederiksted and Christiansted by supporting public/private mixed-use development projects.
  • Supporting the strategic placement of resources, buildings, and public offices to maximize usage and mixed development efforts.
  • Expanding cultural tourism and Danish tourism attraction.
  • Expediting the development of the theme park legislation under the Port Authority’s umbrella at Betty’s Hope on St. Croix.
  • Providing support and incentives for businesses moving to and operating in Enterprise, empowerment and TIF zones.
  • Provide incentives for small boutique hotels development.
  • Assisting owners of dilapidated houses and businesses in town centers with incentives to repair or sell homes and buildings.
  • Lobby federal government to expand or include targeted zone designations for blighted areas throughout St. Croix.

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