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Open House Attracts, Captures Interest of U.S. Virgin Islands Community

USVIEDA, Enterprise Zone Commission Share Program Information During Open House

to Assist Enterprise Zone Residents, Local Businesses; USVI Community

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands – May 1, 2018 – Several individuals took some 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 on Wednesday last week at an Open House on St. Thomas.

This Open House, hosted annually by the Enterprise Zone Commission, a subsidiary entity of the USVIEDA, was held on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at E’s Garden Teahouse and Things at 2A Commandant Gade on St. Thomas.  This small business, a client of the Economic Development Bank, is located within the enterprise zone of Garden Street.

“Once again, the USVIEDA, through the efforts and work of the Enterprise Zone Commission, 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.

Throughout the four-hour Open House, USVIEDA staff members consistently engaged with visitors to the USVIEDA resource table by sharing valuable information about federal and local economic development programs with attendees who were interested in such programs that are administered by the USVIEDA.  Attendees learned about

·         the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), made possible by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (U.S. SBA), for local small manufacturers that are interested in exporting locally-made products to foreign countries,

·         programs that offer tax exemptions & 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 USVIEDA economic development programs. 

In the spirit of combining fun with education, the EZC informed attendees about the USVIEDA and its programs through trivia.  The EZC led a trivia game show in which Open House attendees had an opportunity to display their knowledge about what they already knew, or recently learned, about the USVIEDA and its programs. Complementing the distribution of program information was the availability of local refreshments and the USVIEDA’s support of local entrepreneurship during the Open House.

Attendees had a chance to enjoy a variety of teas and local soups while purchasing products from local, small businesses.  

This Open House is an annual event which gives us an opportunity to get out and part take in a cultural event to provide information that can help residents and businesses in our community,” said Nadine Marchena Kean, director of Enterprise Zone Commission.

Nine local vendors, which primarily outlined the parameter of the inside of the teahouse, 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. Enterprise zones are locations in the Territory that are considered to be blighted and distressed neighborhoods that were once vibrant centers of economic activity.   The enterprise zones in the USVI are Garden Street-UpStreet and Savanne-Downstreet on St. Thomas and Frederiksted and Christiansted on St. Croix.

For more information, contact Enterprise Zone Specialist II Raheem Smith at 340-714-1700, ext. 253; or Enterprise Zone Commission Director Nadine Marchena Kean at ext. 256. 

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