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Rising with Resilience: How the U.S. Virgin Islands is Telling the World it is Open for Business

USVI Economic Development Authority delegation of USVI small-manufacturing businesses to NY NOW Summer 2018 a Success

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands – September 19, 2018 –  With design-driven products made in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 11 small-manufacturing businesses participated in the NY NOW Summer 2018 trade show in New York City.  Showcasing displays of metal-embossed wall art, textiles, paintings, photography, teas and glassware; and tropical fragrances captured in body care products and hand-made candles, these entrepreneurs represented the U.S. Virgin Islands at this annual trade show from August 12-15, 2018 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on 655 W 34th Street.

Through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), a federal export program made possible by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (U.S. SBA), the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA), sponsored and led this delegation of entrepreneurs based on St. Thomas and St. Croix.  These small manufacturers had the opportunity to display and promote their home and lifestyle products to among 20,000 buyers from across 66 countries.  At this tradeshow, the goal of these small manufacturers was to network with potential buyers to increase their sales through export-related activities. 

“At NY NOW Summer 2018, after about a year since two major hurricanes devastated our Territory, the entrepreneurial spirit of the USVI resonated throughout Booth No. 6308 during this trade show,” said Nadine Marchena Kean, director of the Enterprise Zone Commission and USVI STEP Coordinator.  “This was a tremendous opportunity for these entrepreneurs to gain exposure and business growth through export-related activities, and for the USVI to show the world that it is definitely open for business.  Some of these business owners are already receiving product orders,” added Mrs. Marchena Kean.

STEP is authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 through the U.S. Small Business Administration (U.S. SBA).  STEP in the USVI is administered by the USVIEDA. According to the U.S. Virgin Islands Small Business Profile from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, 157 companies exported goods in the USVI in 2013.  Among these, 114, or 72.6 percent, were small firms[1].

Set against the booth’s overall white backdrop, USVI-made products captured the attention of trade show attendees as the U.S. Virgin Islands’ story was told with visual imagery of Caribbean-inspired themes through hand-made metal-embossed art, oil and water-colored paintings, textiles, glassware and photography.  

Other small-manufacturing entrepreneurs allowed potential buyers to experience the USVI through touch and various scents with USVI-made tea, soaps, hair and body products and hand-made candles.  Some of these products were created with earth-based ingredients ranging from lemongrass, papaya, and coconut milk to aloe vera, charcoal, coffee, lavender and castor oil.  Other natural ingredients included local beeswax and honey.  

On the final full day of the NY NOW Summer 2018 trade show, the USVIEDA held a cocktail mixer featuring Cruzan Rum from St. Croix which led to over 100 visitors to the booth within an hour.

The following USVI small-manufacturing entrepreneurs attended NY NOW Summer 2018:



Business Name:

USVI-Manufactured Products:


Jason Budsan

Caribbean Herbals



Christa-Ann Molloy

Christa’s Art Gallery

Prints on bath and home accessories


Ramone Reid

Cultured Naturals Body Care

Organic hair and body products


Deborah Sun

Debbie Sun Art Studio

Art printed on fabrics and other gifts


Clemenceau Perry

DTC  Recycling  d/b/a Perry’s Glass

Glassware items (Dinnerware)


Leonard Smith

Home Grown Farm



Aquannette Chinnery

JDNatlady’s Creations, LLC

Soaps and hair products


Peter Gonzalez

Pita Art Studio

Metal-embossed wall hangings


Toni Downs

Queen CariBEE

Soaps and honey


Linda Bailey

Harmony Bath & Body

Soaps and scrubs


Diego Kean

Studio VI Photography

Postcards, wall decals, decorative wall/window paper wraps of V.I. scenes, etc.

“I will be forever thankful for this opportunity. NY NOW is a game changer for any business,” said Aquannette Chinnery of JDNatlady Creations, LLC.    “We represented the Virgin Islands as 11 brands coming together in one booth.  Thank you USVIEDA, NY NOW, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s STEP program; and thanks to Nadine Marchena-Kean and her staff,” added Ms. Chinnery.

To see photographs and videos of the USVI’s participation at NY NOW Summer 2018 on August 12, 13 and 15, 2018, visit the USVIEDA Facebook page at, or insert #usviatnynow into the Facebook search box.

For more information, contact Nadine Marchena Kean, director of the Enterprise Zone Commission and USVI STEP Coordinator, at 340-714-1700, ext. no. 256; or send an email to

About the U.S.Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority.   The U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA) is a semi-autonomous governmental instrumentality [of the Government of the Virgin Islands] that was created on February 1, 2001.  It is responsible for the promotion and enhancement of economic development of the United States Virgin Islands. The USVIEDA assumes, integrates and unifies the functions of these four entities:  Economic Development Commission, Virgin Islands Economic Development Park Corporation, Economic Development Bank and the Enterprise Zone Commission.  The USVIEDA accomplishes its mission by attracting multi-national investors to the Territory to establish or relocate their business in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  It also provides financial assistance for new and existing small to medium-sized businesses in the Territory and assists V.I. residents and business owners with rehabilitating their properties located in blighted and distressed areas that were once vibrant economic centers of activity in the Territory. Learn more about the USVIEDA at, or send and email to .


[1] U.S. Virgin Islands Small Business Profile from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, page 11, section on International Trade. Link to profile: .


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[1] U.S. Virgin Islands Small Business Profile from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, page 11, section on International Trade. Link to profile:

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