The Department of Interior 2003 Investment Development Conference that was held on Sept. 8 in Washington, D.C., proved to be a much larger success than most had anticipated.
The Virgin Islands government was well represented by Delegate Donna M. Christensen, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards; Sens. David Jones, Lorraine Berry, Douglas Canton Jr., Louis Hill and Roosevelt David; Auguste Rimpel, University of the Virgin Islands board chair; Edward E. Thomas, The West Indian Co. chief executive; Frank Schulterbrandt, Economic Development Authority chief executive; UVI President LaVerne Ragster; Joel Tutein, V.I. National Park St. Croix superintendent; Malcolm Kirwan, UVI Research and Technology Center executive director; and Kent Bernier, assistant to the governor for business affairs.
V.I. business representatives included Derek Hodge, Jeffrey Prosser, Samuel Ebbesen, Holland Redfield, the Farchette-Hanley Realty Group, Marjorie Roberts and many others too numerous too mention.
It was a demonstration of force and interest that "Yes, the Virgin Islands wants and needs companies to relocate and invest in the U.S. territories."
The demonstration of interest was exhibited by active participation in the event by all sectors of the Virgin Islands. Every panel discussion was either moderated by and/or a portion was presented by a V.I. government or business dignitary. Expertise and benefits in the areas of telecommunications, education partnering and tax incentives, to name a few, were expounded upon with convincing vigor.
Numerous side discussions with many of the stateside participants produced quizzical comments to the effect of "Gee, I was not aware of the numerous benefits that can be derived from doing business in the V.I." and "I cannot believe the opportunity that exists down there."
The treasure and the mystique that is the U.S. Virgin Islands was showcased in all its majesty in a cooperative, joint effort with the Department of Interior and the other U.S. territories. It opened many eyes and minds to quality investors that are seeking quality investments. What an opportunity for the Virgin Islands!

Editor's note: John DeLuca, a St. Croix resident from 1985 to 1999, was involved as a St. Croix Hospital Board member in helping the facility rebuild after Hurricane Hugo, obtain accreditation, increase collections sixfold and obtain autonomy. Now a Certified Public Accountant, he lives in Maryland and attended the conference.
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