We envision St. Croix as an attractive place for businesses to grow and prosper.
The Chamber works for small and large businesses on the island of St. Croix as well as supporting pro-business governmental initiatives. Advocacy on behalf of the business community is a cornerstone of the Chamber’s mission. Our Government Relations Committee researches issues that are important to supporting a positive business environment. Below are the positions we communicate on behalf of businesses to government officials.
Job growth is our first priority. In order to achieve job growth, St. Croix must be an attractive place to do business. We support government initiatives that encourage the retention and expansion of existing business and the attraction of new businesses.
To foster job growth, we support efforts to (i) urgently reduce the cost of electricity by whatever means possible; (ii) reduce government spending to avoid further debilitating tax increases on our businesses; (iii) make St. Croix a world-class resort and retirement destination; (iv) provide visible and effective public safety; and (v) renew our island’s infrastructure.
St. Croix must have cheaper and more reliable energy. The cost of electricity is bankrupting our businesses. We support any and all efforts to drive down the cost of energy by whatever means available. We must not be paralyzed by perfectionism in this regard. We accept that immediate efforts to reduce our 100% dependence on oil may temporarily have imperfect environmental results. We must reduce the cost of energy now.
Territorial Budget and Taxation
The Government of the Virgin Islands cannot be all things to all people. The Government must prioritize its ability to provide services. We support efforts to cut unnecessary spending.
We encourage efforts to reform our system of taxation. The territory’s gross receipts tax places an unfair burden on business and must be abolished. To bring jobs into St. Croix, the Territory must enact a new system of taxation that reflects the realities of today’s globally competitive market.
The St. Croix business community must harness the potential inherent in our island’s natural beauty, climate, and status as a United States territory. We support any and all efforts to develop and market St. Croix as a world class resort and retirement destination. We oppose taxation, legislation and/or regulation that hinders our ability to realize our full potential as a world class long and short-term vacation and retirement destination.
Job growth will not occur if people do not feel safe. The territory must continue to build upon its efforts to reinforce the integrity and effectiveness of our public safety institutions. We support efforts to foster cooperative relationships among territorial and federal law enforcement agencies, including peace officer status for federal law enforcement personnel.
St. Croix must renew its infrastructure. The territory must plan and finance infrastructure adequate to accommodate needed growth. To be worthy of outside investment, St. Croix must provide modern streets, pathways, sewers, water systems and communications. We support efforts to renew our island’s infrastructure.
A well educated workforce attracts businesses. It is essential to job growth that our residents have access to an efficient and effective system of public education. Our schools and educators must be accountable to the public and must offer quality services at a reasonable cost. We support efforts to introduce competition into our public school system. Competition will create a better array of choices for our children and their parents. Competition and choice will achieve excellent elementary and secondary educational offerings for the children of St. Croix.
We support efforts to further open access to post-secondary education and training certificates and continue professional development programs at the University of the Virgin Islands as well as other colleges and career/technical institutes. We also believe that early childhood education programs must be strengthened and supported.
Businesses crave highly skilled and technically savvy workers. Our government must work together with private and public education providers to train our workforce to succeed in a globally competitive job market. We support initiatives to train and re-train our workforce for future private sector employment opportunities.
Environmental sensitivity is uniquely important to job growth on St. Croix. Our island’s ecological treasures and natural beauty are essential to attracting tourism and outside investment. We must balance our need for economic development with our need to protect our natural environment. We support sensible efforts to preserve the ecology and natural beauty of St. Croix.
St. Croix must have a well funded and solvent hospital. We support efforts to rationally restructure the financial management of Juan F. Luis Hospital.
Small businesses and individuals must have access to affordable healthcare. The territory must address the rising cost of healthcare. The government should build on the strengths of purchasing pools to obtain stable premiums while enacting reform to lower costs, improve quality and access, and build a more value-driven system.
Employment Law Reform
The Chamber supports employment law reform that does not hinder employers’ ability to encourage and motivate their workforce while maintaining the flexibility employers need to succeed in an ever-changing global environment.
The St. Croix business community must be firm in its commitment to elect lawmakers who will support pro growth and pro business policies. The Government Relations Committee evaluates the positions of candidates for public office and communicates the findings and recommendations to the Chamber’s Board of Directors, who then communicate such findings and recommendations to Chamber members. Our objective is to educate the St. Croix business community and its employees on issues of importance to the business community.