UVI’s Failed Research & Technology Park In St. Croix … When ‘Higher Education’ Doesn’t Make Good Business Sense
WHITE ELEPHANT: UVI’s Gillian Marcelle is in New York City trying to draw attention to the few advantages of the empty Research and Technology Park in St. Croix.
NEW YORK — The University of the Virgin Islands is beating the bush in the Big Apple trying to attract attention to its empty Research and Technology Park in St. Croix.
The RT Park’s executive director, Gillian Marcelle, said she wants the park to become an investment hub for the region — right now, it certainly is not — there is not one single technology company in the whole building.
In Senate budget hearings in 2016, Marcelle projected $2.38 million in gross revenues for UVI RT Park “residents.” Today, David Hall’s white elephant sits empty of tech tenants — but fully 35 companies get tax breaks just the same.
Despite the obvious failures on her part, Marcelle told the Virgin Islands Legislature it had projected net revenues of $200,000 last year because of “high utility bills” in 2016.
“One reason receipts are down is the scarcity of new EDC’s being approved,” said Larry Williams of Shoys. “In the “good days” we had lots of them and they were growing…now they are seldom approved. Getting new businesses here, Tech Park or EDC, is the only economic hope. We have. It is the best tax program on the planet; so why don’t we have them beating down our doors to set up shop here and spur our economy? Answer that question and you have solved our future.”
Dale Le Febvre, one of the few actual clients of the UVI RTPark, embodies “the spirit and intention of impact investing,” Gillian claimed, whatever that means.
Through Anvil 1 LLC, Le Febvre is investing in the USVI, through the RTPark, and is already giving back.
Not only the youngest African-American to donate more than $1 million to the new Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, he places great importance on education and has shown the way by investing in building the technical workforce of the future in the territory and pledging social investments of $750,000 over the next 15 years to UVI for scholarships, research and teaching programs in process technology and energy.
Le Febvre, born in Beaumont, Texas, is no stranger to the American Caribbean, having lived in St. Thomas for the last seven years and having been an investor with Michael Lee Chin in AIC.
Using the skills and knowledge gained from his MIT Engineering, Harvard Law and Harvard MBA degrees, in combination with native intelligence and insights, Le Febvre has been able to generate value in places where others see none.
He is now the owner of five large African-American-owned companies in areas where there was little diversity, such as data center management, long haul trucking, pipelines and mortgage finance.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Entrepreneur Dale Le Febvre talks to St. Thomas high school students at the University of the Virgin Islands function.