Above: Delegate Donna Christensen (centre)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Donna Christensen, the US Virgin Islands’ delegate to the US Congress, is pursuing an Economic Disaster Declaration for the territory after the closure of the HOVENSA oil refinery, its single-largest employer.
“I know that is what the car industry got, and while this is on a smaller scale, for our territory, with its 110,000 population to lose over 2,000 jobs and its main supplier of energy, it is an economic disaster,” she said in a meeting with Department of Commerce officials this week.
John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Economic Development Administration, said that access to the administration’s programming would be tantamount to a declaration, but Christensen said she would pursue the idea further.
The discussions came at the annual meeting of the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs in Washington, where delegates and governors from the four US territories congregate.
“The territories are extremely important to the United States and to the President,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “They are of strategic importance and we have a major stake in making sure that they are strong.”
The Department of the Interior also announced several grants for the USVI at the meeting this week, led by a $1.02 million technical assistance grant for the Main Street Enhancement Project for Downtown Charlotte Amalie.