U.S. Virgin Islands
Economic diversity is a keystone to resiliency, and in no place is this principle more evident than in the U.S. Virgin Islands. While the Islands’ beautiful beaches make it an ideal tourist destination, U.S. Virgin Islands’ officials have long recognized that tourism alone cannot sustain the Islands’ economy. The Territory is undergoing an effort in diversifying, strengthening existing and growing new industries. The transformation would assist the Territory in establishing a stable ecosystem.
In order to unlock future opportunities, the Territory will need to be more resilient to natural and economic disasters. The territory is still recovering from two natural disasters, Tropical Storm Otto and Tropical Storm Tomas, back-to-back storms in late 2010 that resulted in mudslides, flooding and landslides. Additionally, in January 2012, an oil refinery that served as the largest private industry employer in the U.S. Virgin Islands announced the abrupt permanent closing of their refinery. The result was the loss of 2,100 full-time workers. Both the direct and indirect the economic impact across the Territory from this closure have been great as the supply chain network supporting the export of the refinery’s products has also taken a devastating hit.
EDA has taken a lead role in the Federal government’s efforts to help the Territory recover from these economic disasters. EDA chaired the USVI Inter-agency Federal Taskforce’s monthly teleconference to discuss strategic planning for upcoming and past federal activities. Coordinated by the Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, this group brings together key representatives from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Energy, and Transportation, as well as the Small Business Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. Furthermore, with ongoing assistance from EDA, the Territory has undertaken a thorough Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) process that has helped make their economy more resilient. From these planning efforts, EDA has supported local leaders in developing a series of high-impact projects.