Above: USVI Governor John de Jongh speaking to the St Croix Chamber of Commerce
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Following the announced closure of the HOVENSA refinery in St Croix, the Caribbean’s largest, the US Virgin Islands is focusing on continuing to build the foundation for a sustainable and more diverse economy, according to Governor John de Jongh.
The governor was speaking at the annual meeting of the St Croix Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
“Even without HOVENSA, St Croix will recover,” he said. “It may be a different future, but it is one that will be successful.”
De Jongh said that while the closure of HOVENSA, the territory’s single-largest employer, would negatively impact the economy, it leaves a “skilled workforce ready to take on new responsibilities.”
“We have a tremendous opportunity to reshape our future and will continue to build on the strength and will of our people to succeed and prosper,” he said.
De Jongh said the territory, which has an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent, is borrowing from the federal government to pay its share of unemployment benefits, and the Department of Labour has deployed rapid response teams to asset those recently put out of work.
In what he said was a positive sign for the territory, de Jongh noted the first case of locally-produced Captain Morgan rum, which he accepted from parent company Diageo.