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Sunny Skies, Strong Returns: Why the US Virgin Islands is Your Next Business Destination

As a premier location for business investment, the US Virgin Islands presents a thriving economy that boasts a GDP of approximately $4.44 billion as of 2021. Furthermore, the territory enjoys a robust tourism sector, contributing significantly to its economic strength.

 

With an unemployment rate that has seen a progressive decline, standing at roughly 12.4% as of 2022, (a 0.79% decline from 2021), the US Virgin Islands is on a clear trajectory toward economic resilience and prosperity. This trend creates an advantageous environment for new businesses looking to capitalize on the region’s growing markets and skilled labor pool. 

 

As a prominent authority in business, the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA) is dedicated to promoting and facilitating local and international investment. The organization provides an abundance of resources for entrepreneurs and enterprises interested in setting up a business in the US territory. They have an extensive knowledge base, offer market analysis reports, connect investors to local suppliers, and much more.

 

In this article, we will explore the key reasons why the US Virgin Islands should be your next business destination and how USVIEDA can assist in making this a profitable venture.

Growth Industries as Pillars of the USVI Economy

The USVI’s economy is poised for robust growth, with several key industries driving this expansion.

  • Financial Services
  • Tourism & Hospitality
  • Technology
  • Advanced Manufacturing

Financial Services

The Financial Services sector in the USVI is a robust and rapidly growing industry, contributing to a significant portion of the region’s economic output. According to the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA), the sector has witnessed a substantial upsurge in recent years.

One of the key factors supporting this growth is the government’s commitment to maintaining a stable financial climate. This commitment is evident in the form of a robust regulatory framework that ensures the transparent operation of financial entities within the region.

Moreover, the USVI government has implemented attractive tax incentives, thereby creating a favorable economic environment for entities operating in the financial services sector. These incentives have helped the region present itself as a highly competitive and attractive option for businesses operating in the financial services industry.

Tourism & Hospitality

The USVI tourism and hospitality sector is the major contributor to the region’s economy, generating employment opportunities and promoting cultural exchange. The industry accounts for nearly 60% of the USVI’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employment. This immense contribution highlights the sector’s critical role in driving economic growth and development within the region.  

The USVI’s strategic location, coupled with its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, makes it one of the world’s top tourist destinations. The region’s three main islands – St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John – offer diverse tourism experiences ranging from luxury resorts to eco-tourism adventures. The USVI government has taken proactive measures to protect and preserve the region’s natural resources, such as its pristine beaches, ensuring sustainable tourism practices for future generations.

Advanced Manufacturing

The Advanced Manufacturing industry is rapidly evolving, demonstrating both resilience and innovation in responding to global market demands. The island’s strategic location provides easy access to major North and South American markets, amplifying its potential as an attractive base for manufacturing operations.

Whether it’s the production of renewable energy components, pharmaceuticals, or specialized equipment, advanced manufacturing in the USVI exhibits a commitment to excellence and a forward-thinking approach. This dynamic sector stands as a testament to the region’s adaptability and readiness for the future of global manufacturing.

Technology

Firms requiring robust and stable broadband and data capacities will discover ample provisions in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Boasting a comprehensive and growing information technology sector, the USVI is home to esteemed companies such as U.S. Viking. These industry leaders offer cutting-edge hardware and software solutions in areas such as computer-based data acquisition and control, newsroom computer systems, and more.

Smaller tech ventures also flourish within the RTPark – a research and technology hub managed by the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix. This facility provides businesses with access to 64 West, the exclusive carrier-neutral provider of managed services and collocation in the USVI. The park boasts a point of presence and data center that runs through the fiber switching utilities of AT&T and Level 3 (Global Crossing).

This is also an opportunity for E-commerce companies to gain a competitive edge through access to mission-critical telecommunications and managed services including hosting and transaction processing services.

Advantages of Doing Business in the US Virgin Islands

Strategic Location

The strategic positioning of the US Virgin Islands is a fundamental advantage for conducting business.

Situated in the Caribbean Basin, the islands serve as a gateway between North and South America, and the wider world. This enables businesses to efficiently move goods and services across borders, significantly reducing transit times. The islands are also within the Eastern Standard Time zone, making it more convenient for real-time communication with major business hubs such as New York, Washington D.C., and Toronto during regular business hours.

European contacts are also more accessible due to minimal time differences. Furthermore, the island’s proximity to the Panama Canal enhances the USVI’s logistical appeal, offering businesses access to major shipping routes from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

All these factors contribute to the islands’ strategic attractiveness for businesses seeking to expand their global reach while maintaining efficiency and reducing operational costs.

The Business Environment

Understanding USVI’s Dynamic Business Climate

The U.S. Virgin Islands presents a dynamic business climate that is both competitive and conducive to growth. With political stability under U.S. governance, businesses can operate with confidence, assured by the protection of U.S. laws and regulations. The islands’ economy, though small, is open and diverse with opportunities as we’ve mentioned before, to expand into neighboring Caribbean markets as well as the U.S. mainland.

Moreover, the government is proactive in its efforts to attract investment and stimulate economic growth. Several programs and initiatives provide businesses with financing, tax incentives, and technical assistance. The Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA), for example, offers a range of incentives such as tax credits and exemptions to encourage investment and job creation in the region. 

The workforce in the USVI is another advantage for businesses. The islands have a high literacy rate and the population is predominantly English-speaking, reducing language barriers for international businesses. The local university also offers a steady stream of graduates in key fields such as business administration, hospitality, and marine science, providing a valuable talent pool for industries prevalent in the islands.

In terms of infrastructure, the USVI has access to modern communication networks and transportation services. The territory’s location also offers business logistical advantages, with easy access to major air and sea routes for trade and shipping.

Favorable Tax Incentives and Business Policies

The USVIEDA offers a range of tax incentives and business policies to attract investment and foster economic growth. The Tax Incentive Program, administered by the USVIEDA, provides up to 90% reduction on corporate income tax,  100% exemptions on business property tax, excise tax, gross receipts tax, and significant reductions on customs duties for qualifying businesses. 

This program has been instrumental in attracting multinational corporations to the islands, creating jobs, and boosting the economy. Furthermore, the USVI also offers a favorable business environment with no import tariffs, minimum corporate taxes, and no restrictions on the repatriation of profits. These incentives make the USVI an attractive destination for businesses looking to reduce their tax burden.

Interested to learn more about these tax incentives and business programs?

Let us help you navigate through the details and understand how your business can benefit from them.

Investment Opportunities: Sectors worth your attention

While sectors like tourism and hospitality dominate the USVI’s economy, there are also lucrative opportunities in other industries.

  • Agribusiness
  • Coastal/ ocean resources
  • Light manufacturing
  • Professional/tech services,
  • Renewable energy
  • VI-style tourism
    • Agribusiness: Commercial production and distribution of agricultural goods activities. The USVI, with its tropical climate, provides ideal conditions for crop farming, livestock rearing, and aquaculture. There is a growing demand for local, organic produce on the islands. Investing in sustainable practices like organic farming or aquaponics can yield substantial returns. For instance, an investor could establish an organic farm that supplies fresh produce to local markets and restaurants.
    • Coastal/Ocean Resources: The islands’ abundant marine biodiversity and strategic location create avenues for seafood harvesting, marine biotechnology, and marine-based tourism. The USVI government has implemented marine infrastructure initiatives to improve resource management and sustainability. Investments include modern ports and marinas, efficient waste management systems, and innovative marine conservation strategies.
    • Light Manufacturing: The production of small or light goods such as clothing, food products, and household items. The USVI’s favorable tax incentives, combined with its strategic location, make it an advantageous destination for light manufacturing businesses. Opportunities exist in setting up manufacturing units that cater to local demand or export to the mainland and other Caribbean islands.
    • Professional/Tech Services: include sectors such as IT consulting, software development, cybersecurity, and other technology-enabled services. Given the global shift towards digitization,  there is an increasing demand for these services. Having offshore IT and software development centers, or providing tech consulting services to local businesses, could be lucrative investment opportunities in the USVI.
    • Renewable Energy: Given USVI’s commitment to transition to 60% renewable energy by 2025, there are extensive opportunities for investing in renewable energy projects. This could include establishing solar farms or wind energy installations or investing in the development of bioenergy resources.
    • VI-Style Tourism: refers to tourism activities that are unique to the Virgin Islands culture, heritage, and natural beauty. The USVI, known for its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and warm hospitality, offers ample opportunities for investment in niche tourism sectors like eco-tourism, heritage tourism, and luxury tourism. Investors can consider developing unique tourism experiences that showcase the local culture and natural beauty, like eco-lodges, cultural tours, or luxury wellness retreats.

Why the USVIEDA

The Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA) serves as an invaluable guide in your journey to establish and grow your business in this paradise. Our role is not limited to providing information; we offer comprehensive, hands-on assistance throughout the process.

  1. Navigating Regulations: We help you understand and comply with local and federal regulations, ensuring a smooth start and continued operation for your business.
  2. Facilitating Partnerships: We assist in establishing connections with local government bodies, ensuring you can take full advantage of public-private partnership opportunities.
  3. Access to Infrastructure: We provide key insights about the robust local infrastructure, from transportation to telecommunications, helping your business utilize these to the fullest.
  4. Workforce and Education: We guide you in tapping into the highly skilled and educated local labor force, and in leveraging the educational resources available, such as the nationally accredited University of the Virgin Islands.

Remember, the USVIEDA is more than an economic development agency; we’re your partner, dedicated to ensuring your venture in the Virgin Islands is a resounding success.

Life in the US Virgin Islands:

Balancing Business Success with the Island Lifestyle.

One of the most significant advantages of doing business in the USVI is the unique island lifestyle it offers. The islands have a rich cultural heritage, warm climate, and stunning natural beauty, making it an ideal place to live and work. 

The laid-back island lifestyle provides a much-needed balance for entrepreneurs and business owners, allowing them to enjoy leisure activities such as boating, hiking, golfing, and exploring the islands’ many beaches. Moreover, the USVI has a vibrant community of expats from all over the world, providing a diverse and welcoming environment for businesses and their employees.

Discover, Invest, Prosper: Your Next Business Venture Awaits in the USVI

With the support of the USVIEDA, you can discover new markets and expand your business in a region with strong economic growth potential, favorable tax incentives, and a supportive business environment. We invite you to explore the endless possibilities that await in the US Virgin Islands and consider making it your next business venture.

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