The VI Economic Development Commission met on Thursday and approved a new tax benefit certificate and selected an energy sector analysis consultant.
“The objective of the analysis of the energy sector is to identify investment opportunities in existing and potential renewable energy projects in the territory to be promoted to investors”, according to information from the Authority. economic development.
An evaluation committee met on August 5 and reviewed the proposals before recommending the bidder Siemens Power Technologies International.
“Our economic prosperity is directly linked to the ability of the US Virgin Islands to provide reliable, affordable and sustainable sources of energy to our residents. The energy sector analysis will advance the Vision 2040 plan to boost investment in renewable energy sources and investment in green technologies to build resilient infrastructure, ”said Wayne Biggs Jr, CEO of EDA .
The territory’s Vision 2040 renewable energy objective aims for 75% of energy production to come from renewable sources by 2040.
The EDC also voted unanimously to grant a new certificate of benefits to the Paragon Surgical Center.
The company for the outpatient surgery center was incorporated in 2018, and its insurance file was deemed complete in April. The company has agreed to maintain a minimum total of 10 full-time employees, to make a minimum investment of $ 408,000 in the business within one year of the start of tax incentives and other charitable contributions.
The EDC voted in favor of a 100% tax exemption for 20 years, but doctors’ fees will not be included in these exemptions.
The board of directors also voted to approve an amended grant of incentives for VI Paving, Inc. and an extension of time to begin incentives for Sunset Cove Holdings.
Board members also heard from Mounir Nahas, owner and COO of Black Diamond Advisors and Black Diamond Holdings. Both benefit from tax incentives for alternative asset management, and both companies operate in the same space.
Companies have enjoyed tax incentives for a decade under two separate benefit certificates that expire and claim an additional 10 years at 100% of the benefit. Lawyer Marjorie Roberts said the extension would give companies “the maximum initial benefits of 20 years, as permitted under existing law.”
Company representative Chad Bell said that “operating and office expenses are split 50/50, we split them equally between the two companies,” which have about 23 employees between them. EDC will vote on whether to grant the requested extension at a future meeting.
Biggs also told the board that the International Economic Development Council had helped provide a volunteer to work with the EDA “in the hope that we would be able to get accreditation from them at some point. , as an accredited economic development organization “.
The EDA has created a proposed operational plan that will be discussed at the next meeting, Biggs said.
He also said they hope to have a request for proposals for a strategic plan for the agency “very, very soon”.
CFO Kelly Thompson-Webbe gave an overview of the fiscal year 2022 budget of $ 7.4 million, 90% of which comes from government funds.
For the first time, the budget includes $ 200,000 for the Corporate Zone Commission to revitalize downtown, said Thompson-Webbe. The budget has an overall increase of $ 700,570, including increases in staff costs to cover salary negotiations and professional services to recruit a lead generator consultant to attract new business investment.
Thompson-Webbe said the budget also includes an analysis and a cost-benefit model for the tax incentive program.
The budget also includes a $ 149,374 increase in commercial marketing “to implement the global marketing campaign” and planned increases in utility costs.
The five board members present voted to approve the budget, including President Kevin Rodriquez, Phillip Payne, Haldane Davies, Jose Penn and Gary Molloy. Board member and Agriculture Commissioner Positive Nelson has been excused.