The CEO of the Economic Development Authority painting a bright picture for the future of the Virgin Islands. He talks one on one with USVI Correspondent Kellie Meyer in an exclusive interview about growth after the hurricanes, Essence Festival and the findings of a recent report on the impact of their EDC program.
KM: Alright, I am here in St. Thomas I am here at the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority with CEO Kamal Latham. Thank you so much for joining us. We’re catching up on a lot of the things happening in the VI, a lot of stuff going on, but first I want to catch up with you on something we saw on your Twitter, that you were at the Essence Festival and we wanted to hear why you went?
KL: Sure, I was honored and invited to be a speaker there at the Essence Global Black Economic Forum. It was the first inaugural event. They invited to speak about an inclusive economic development strategy to promote growth. And so I shared what we’re doing in the US Virgin Islands that we have a great opportunity to grow things here and it was quite well received.
KM: I know we’re talking about some of the companies, or businesses that might be coming in. We can’t say specifically who but can we talk about some of the interest of who may be coming to the Virgin Islands next?
KL: Yes, our top priority right now is in the resorts and hotel sector. We have spoken to a number of major hotels and investors and there is very strong interest in having hotels built in the US Virgin Islands particularly in the island of St. Croix and so we have attended a number of conferences that are focused on the hotel and resort sector and there are multiple conversations that are occurring and we are optimistic that we will have some good results to report.
KM: So what impact does the Economic Development Authority have on the territory?
KL: Thank you for that question. A substantial impact we recently had a report released on the economic impact of our program the EDC program. And it showed that between 2013 to 2015, during that 3 year period the EDC companies, about 70 of them each year reporting, indicated that $9.7 million in charitable contributions were paid, $309 million in taxes and duties were paid, $1 billion in wages and salaries were paid, and about $1.5 billion in total economic output during those three years. We are a great investment and we look forward to having an even greater impact going forward.
To learn more about the EDA and their programs go to https://www.usvieda.org.