Connect with us

Business

Vendor’s Plaza in Charlotte Amalie to Implement Significant Fee Hike

Published

on

Starting this October, the longstanding tradition of free booth occupancy at Vendor’s Plaza in Charlotte Amalie is set to conclude. This transition is confirmed by representatives from the Department of Property & Procurement during a recent Senate Committee on Government Operations, Veterans Affairs, and Consumer Protection meeting.

Deputy Commissioner Vincent Richards shed light on the forthcoming changes, highlighting a notable rental hike from the past nominal fee of $200 annually to an imposing $3600 per annum. Upon inquisition by Senator Ray Fonseca regarding the drastic fee elevation, Richards articulated, “We reckon it’s a reasonable figure, breaking down to merely $10 daily.”

Committee chair, Senator Carla Joseph, inquired about the vendor community’s perspective on this change. Richards acknowledged some preliminary discussions with key representatives of the vendor community and their association heads. However, a comprehensive, formal communication to the entire vendor community remains pending. This holistic communication, he emphasized, is scheduled for the imminent future. Moreover, he added that the forthcoming sessions would see the drafting of operational guidelines, shaping the relationship between the tenants and their overseer, the Department of Property & Procurement.

On the subject of direct engagement with the entire vendor populace, Richards pointed to ongoing projects at the plaza requiring the Historic Preservation Committee’s (HPC) insights. The metallic composition of the structures demands additional installations to negate the heat impact – introducing sunshades, benches, trees, and other amenities. The department, he stressed, prioritized aligning with the HPC before consolidating all stakeholders. Senator Joseph, however, asserted the necessity of involving all impacted parties in the conversation, identifying vendors as potential allies in advocating for plaza enhancements.

Responding to Senator Joseph’s concerns, Property & Procurement Commissioner Lisa Alejandro revealed ongoing discussions to establish a dedicated space for the relocation of food and beverage vendors who’ve been affected. An impending session with the HPC, as shared by Richards, would offer clearer directives on permissible actions.

Yet, rehousing provisions wouldn’t be extended to all ousted vendors. Citing examples, Richards mentioned a few vendors situated at the plaza without local residential ties. “I received calls as distant as from the African continent,” Richards remarked, further noting that some were vacationing in locations like Colorado. The aim, he emphasized, was to favor those genuinely dedicated to their booth operations.

Highlighting malpractices like booth sub-leasing, Richards shared that while official rents were $200 annually, some vendors were turning a profit by leasing their spots for as much as $1000 monthly.

Expressing the Department of Property and Procurement’s commitment, Richards remarked, “Our endeavors are channelized towards revamping Vendors Plaza, making it a preferred venue both for vendors and shoppers alike.” Envisioning a plaza that flaunts locally produced items, he affirmed their continued dedication. “Our future agenda entails enhanced waste management, beautification, shading provisions, ultimately transforming it into a locale symbolizing collective pride,” Richards concluded.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business

SBA Launches T.H.R.I.V.E. Training Program for Small Business Owners in 2024

Published

on

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has unveiled the T.H.R.I.V.E. (Train, Hope, Rise, Innovate, Venture, Elevate) training program, set to begin in 2024. This initiative, evolving from the previous Emerging Leaders program, is tailored to bolster the expansion and longevity of small businesses throughout the United States, including those in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Starting on June 18 and concluding on December 10, 2024, T.H.R.I.V.E. offers a blend of online and in-person sessions. The curriculum is designed to enhance leadership skills, strategic financial management, market innovation, and the development of a vibrant company culture. Participants will engage in an interactive format, receiving guidance from experts and creating a comprehensive three-year strategic growth plan.

Isabel Casillas Guzman, the 27th Administrator of the SBA, stressed the importance of the program. “The T.H.R.I.V.E. Emerging Leaders Reimagined initiative arms budding small business leaders with the essential tools and knowledge, providing them access to top economic minds, which is crucial for competing in the global market,” she noted.

To qualify, businesses must have been operational for at least three years, generate minimum annual revenues of $250,000, employ at least one person besides the owner, and the owner must participate throughout the six-month program duration.

Josué E. Rivera, SBA’s district director for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, emphasized the training’s collaborative approach. “Our innovative cohort model not only fosters a network of support but also connects participants with leading figures in the industry and government. This approach is instrumental in cultivating business growth and sustainable practices,” Rivera said.

Wayne Huddleston, SBA senior area manager for the U.S. Virgin Islands, highlighted the program’s local impact. “For small business owners in the U.S. Virgin Islands, this program offers crucial tools and knowledge to help them diversify their revenue streams and expand their operations. I urge interested entrepreneurs to apply before the April 28 deadline, as space is limited,” he urged.

Entrepreneurs from the U.S. Virgin Islands interested in the 2024 T.H.R.I.V.E. cohort can obtain more information and apply by visiting the SBA’s official website or by contacting the SBA’s St. Croix office at 340-473-7945. Applications are open until April 28, 2024.

Continue Reading

Business

Leadership Transition at RTPark as CEO Peter Chapman Announces Departure

Published

on

The Research and Technology Park (RTPark) is set for a new chapter in leadership as CEO Peter H. Chapman has announced he will be stepping down after a dynamic and impactful six years at the helm. Chapman, credited with steering RTPark through a period marked by strategic innovations and robust growth, will see his contract conclude without renewal. His future endeavors will concentrate on his venture, Urban Policy Innovations (UPI), an economic development and real estate advisory firm, as revealed in a recent RTPark press release.

Chapman’s era at RTPark is distinguished by remarkable financial achievements and the enhancement of the community’s socio-economic landscape in the Virgin Islands. Under his guidance, RTPark was distinguished with the 2020 Economic Development Organization of the Year award by the International Economic Development Council. The park’s business portfolio witnessed a substantial 275% growth, while its revenues soared by over 300%, obliterating a $4 million debt accumulated before Chapman’s leadership in 2018. Notably, RTPark’s support for the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) saw a dramatic increase, contributing $3 million in 2023—a more than 300% rise since 2018, cumulating to approximately $14 million in support since RTPark’s inception.

Reflecting on his tenure, Chapman expressed his dedication to the economic diversification efforts of the RTPark and the broader Virgin Islands community. “Leading the RTPark has been a privilege, and I am thankful for the trust and opportunity granted by the RTPark Board of Directors and the organization’s visionary founders,” he remarked.

Chapman attributed the success of RTPark to a vigorous economic development strategy that propelled tech sector growth and diversified revenue streams. This approach included enticing new enterprises, nurturing startups, developing the workforce, facilitating access to capital, and enhancing infrastructure. He also acknowledged the crucial role of RTPark-affiliated companies in fueling the organization’s expansion and its significant investments in UVI.

As Chapman prepares for his departure, he remains devoted to a smooth transition and the continued prosperity of RTPark’s projects. He hinted at his potential involvement in special economic development projects within the Virgin Islands post-RTPark, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to serve and his anticipation for RTPark’s future trajectory.

“The collective achievements during my tenure are a reflection of the collaborative effort and commitment of our team, partners, and the community. I am proud of our accomplishments and eager to witness RTPark’s ongoing success,” Chapman concluded.

Continue Reading

Business

Launch of GERS Personal Loan Program: A New Opportunity for Government Employees

Published

on

The Government Employees’ Retirement System (GERS) has officially announced the opening for expressions of interest in its newly relaunched personal loan program, sparking excitement among its members. Following a resolution in January by the GERS Board of Trustees, $20 million has been earmarked to fuel this initiative, aimed at providing financial assistance to its members. This revival splits the allocated funds equally between the St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John administrative districts.

Eligibility for this financial opportunity is extended to active members who have contributed for a minimum of two years. They can apply for loans up to $10,000, repayable over a span of five years or before the borrower reaches the age of 70, at an interest rate of 8%.

Members interested in availing themselves of this opportunity are encouraged to express their interest through an online loan interest form or by personally visiting GERS offices. The deadline for submission is set for April 18, before noon. An application fee of $50 is required as part of the process, as stated by the agency.

Following the initial expression of interest, the pre-qualification stage will commence. Successful candidates will then be notified to arrange interview appointments, proceeding in the sequence in which their expressions of interest were received. This structured approach ensures a transparent and orderly process, allowing members to step closer to financial empowerment through the GERS personal loan program.

Continue Reading

Trending