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Decimated UVI RT Park On St. Croix Hopes There’s Life After Hurricane Maria

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FREDERIKSTED — The RTPark Program of the Virgin Islands highlighted partnerships, communication, and the potential for new financial approaches as dominant themes for the future during its “Recovery, Renewal, Resilience Workshop,” held on March 8.

The event focused on the territory’s long-term economic development and building community strength in the face of more frequent severe weather events.

The workshop and reception welcomed representatives from the private sector; the Hurricane Recovery and Resiliency Task Force established by Gov. Kenneth Mapp; government; the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI); and foundations and not for profit organizations.

The discussion covered several themes, one of which was the potential for capital markets to play a more direct role in supporting resilience at the individual and community levels. Keynote speaker Gabriel Thoumi, Director Capital Markets of Climate Advisers, brought his specific experience to bear on the topic.

“Creating resilience calls for financial instruments that are geared for impact investors and scaled through mainstream capital markets,” Thoumi said. “The right type of vehicles can be designed to direct funds to support organizations and individuals that are at the center of immediate recovery and long term resilience efforts of the USVI. There is also an opportunity to renegotiate existing debt of the Territory as part of the overall strategic approach to rebuilding and improved resiliency.”

This workshop aligned with and extended the conversation about global efforts to forge partnerships and foster collaboration to solve environmental challenges. Effective organizations and leaders are finding ways to share knowledge across geographies and interests.

“Small, island nations in the Caribbean are in the eye of the storm; there is an urgency to find more creative solutions and change mindsets around resilience. There is an opportunity to work collectively to design models that can be replicated across the entire region,” said Executive Director of RTPark, Dr. Gillian Marcelle. “What’s needed is political will, knowledge, technology, finance and community participation, and it’s important that we make progress in bringing all these elements together.”

Other concepts that emerged from the workshop included:

  • Several private sector companies including RTPark clients have committed to develop resilience service offerings that can be deployed before the next hurricane season; this will bring energy, pragmatism and expertise from the private sector to the disaster preparedness and resilience effort. Participants are keen to support the establishment of business improvement districts in the USVI.
  • The human element of recovery remains critical, with an emphasis on continued positive intervention, trauma-informed counseling, and compassion to help heal communities under stress, as noted by Dr. Leslie-Anne Williams, founder of Healing Wings International Foundation and other participants and speakers involved in psychological aspects of building resilience. Project Promise, a St. Croix-based not for profit, briefed the group on what they have done since the hurricanes to assist at-risk youth.
  • There is a need for a new moderated communications forum to promote information exchange and forge partnerships across different segments of society to tackle the challenge of resiliency, as presented by Justin Moorhead of Virgin Islands Capital Resources Inc.

The workshop was held as part of the RTPark Program’s thought leadership platform, and was presented in partnership with the University of the Virgin Islands School of Business and SEAT Caribbean, a start up co-working space, accelerator and business advisory services provider.

For more information or to donate to USVI recovery efforts, please visit

About RTPark:

RTPark is a specialized economic development program designed to bring investment to the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). By managing an incentive program for participating businesses, RTPark gives qualified clients access to attractive tax benefits, the lifestyle of an island paradise, and the opportunity to create local value for the USVI. The program serves as a facilitator of impact investment in the USVI, with client companies contributing directly to educational and professional development programs in partnership with the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), as well as other advisory and technical services that support the Territory as a whole.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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