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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Earmarks $6.1 Million For U.S. Virgin Islands Jobs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said today that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $27 million in grants to the Virgin Islands Port Authority of St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., to expand and improve two major airports in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

According to grantee estimates, the projects are expected to help retain 179 jobs, create up to 158 jobs, and generate $6.1 million in private investment.

“President Trump promised to be there for the U.S. Virgin Islands after it was devastated by natural disasters in 2017 and the Department of Commerce is proud to be a part of that effort,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These Department of Commerce grants will help rebuild the U.S. Virgin Islands’ major airports on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and provide a needed boost to a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone.”

“Our ports are the gateway to our economy, and these grants will assist our Virgin Islands Port Authority in its efforts to rebuild, expand and modernize both the Cyril King and Henry E Rohlsen Airports,” said Governor Bryan. “While this project is important to our economy, it is more important to the residents of St. Croix and St. Thomas. This funding will create jobs and generate millions in private investment. I want to thank the leadership of the Virgin Islands Port Authority, the Bureau of Economic Research and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.”

“These two important Economic Development Administration grants are significant to the residents of the of St. Thomas and St. Croix and the U.S. Virgin Islands because they will allow the USVI Port Authority to continue promoting the wise use of these facilities for the betterment of the U.S. Virgin Islands and its people,” said Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett. “These grants will also assist the local government and the community in fostering and sustaining sound economic development when it comes to its airports. If we want to restore our aging airports to their former glory—not to mention help them keep up with increasing demand—we must give them the tools to improve and expand their terminals, runways, and taxiways and these two grants will help with that mission.”

The grants announced today are:

  • $20 million to construct a Parking and Transportation Center (PTC) at the Cyril E. King Airport on the island of St. Thomas, which is located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone. The project will improve transit access and operational capacity to minimize time required for the transport of people and goods, driving both economic recovery and resilience. According to grantee estimates, the project is expected to help retain 139 jobs, create up to 116 jobs and generate $5 million in private investment. 
  • $7 million to renovate and expand approximately 6,550 square feet inside the Henry E. Rohslen Airport on the island of St. Croix. This project will improve the structure’s ability to withstand powerful tropical weather and will provide a broader resiliency to the island by restoring tourism and import/export opportunities. According to grantee estimates, the project is expected to help retain 40 jobs, create 42 jobs and spur $1.1 million in private investment.

These projects are funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (PL 115-123) (PDF), in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additionalEconomic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program (PDF) funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, wildfires and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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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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