Above: US Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh (Photo: OG)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Now is the time to tackle St Croix’s economic challenges, US Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh recently told a group of business leaders in St Croix.
Governor de Jongh was speaking at a meeting at the offices of the St Croix foundation, one of several held of late to develop economic strategies for the island in the wake of the closure of the HOVENSA refinery, the island’s largest employer.
“I think we are at the point where most government, business and non-profit leaders have committed to the idea that is time to seriously confront our territory’s major economic challenges and fast-track an effective response strategy,” de Jongh said.
“I also think everyone recognizes that we will succeed only if we all work together and abandon for good the divisive rhetoric that in the past has been an obstacle to progress,” he said.
The Governor was joined at a roundtable by representatives from Diageo, the University of the Virgin Islands, the St Croix Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.
The group discussed the economic future of the island and the USVI, including strategies aimed at boosting the local economy.
One plan is to market the USVI’s Economic Development Programme, which the administration has been doing in recent months.
Officials from the USVI recently went to Panama and the United Kingdom seeking companies interested in moving to the territory.
It was announced in mid-January that HOVENSA, the Caribbean’s largest refinery, would close.
The Governor has called the move to close it a “catastrophic decision.”
That is, in part, because while the refinery was St Croix’s largest employer, it was also its primary source of fuel.
Now, the USVI is looking for new options, and it looks as though Liquefied Natural Gas may be the choice, according to the administration.