Economic growth in the United States Virgin Islands (“USVI” and “Territory”) suffered due to the 2012 closure of the HOVENSA oil refinery, US Treasury regulations contained in the 2004 Jobs Act, and the ongoing sluggishness in the global economy following the Great Recession. In addition, the Territory faced ongoing challenges in expanding and diversifying its economic base.
In an effort to overcome these challenges, Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. engaged TIP Strategies to conduct a comprehensive study of the USVI’s best prospects for recruitment and expansion. TIP identified opportunities for recruiting and developing new businesses that would promote both job creation and private investment in the Territory. Specific emphasis was placed on opportunities for promoting investment and employment on St. Croix. Identifying target industries required an understanding of the opportunities and barriers unique to the Territory and to the cycles of the national economy. TIP’s selection process took three things into consideration: legacy industries and the existing business base; national growth industries; and emerging industries. The final targeted competitive industry analysis was organized into two sections. The first section provided a broad overview of factors that influenced the USVI’s competitive position regarding corporate investment. TIP focused on four areas: workforce and education, infrastructure, regulatory environment, and quality of life. The second section outlined the recommended targets and included a discussion of constraints and strategic recommendations for support of the targeted sectors. The study also recommended additional business development opportunities to be pursued. These included seeking federal and private funding to develop a large international transshipment port on St. Croix, developing more specialized tourism products that appeal to overnight visitors, and promoting specialty foods and micro-batch luxury items such as craft rum to capture premium prices.