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Chamber Leader Looks Back on the Business of 2004


Jan 19, 2005 – The voice of Anna Maria Hector cracked with emotion as she spoke of the year she had just served as president of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce.
However, she did not need to stay sad too long at the Chamber's 2005 Annual Meeting Wednesday at the Cormorant Beach Restaurant. A few minutes after her speech concluded, members set about the business of electing a president for the upcoming year. They unanimously chose Hector to serve again.
This may have been good because in her speech, in which she listed accomplishments of the last year, she also listed projects that needed continued work.
The list included:
– Working with the St. Croix Anti Crime Task Force to get the judicial changes that are necessary. She said, "We have to demand that the justice system and legislature get together on curbing these hoodlums who are running wild."
– Encouraging and developing hotel rooms and a conference center. She said, "Our survivability depends on it."
– Applying more pressure to get waste management systems up to date. She said, "The legislature has implemented a sewer tax but the system is the same. What are we paying for?"
– Increasing membership. She said, "In order for the Chamber to move ahead we need to increase our membership. We are hoping to hire an executive director but this undertaking needs your support consistently."
One project Hector said was special to her, and which she listed as an accomplishment of last year and one that gives hope to the future, is the formation of Team St. Croix. She thanked Samuel Baptiste, chamber vice president of governmental affairs, for getting that project up and running. Team St. Croix is made up of 20 community organizations dedicated to developing the island economy and making it a better, safer place to live. Team St. Croix had one of a series of meetings with government officials the prior evening. (See "Senators, Team Hear About Electronic Exchange").
She also thanked Robert Merwin for having the original idea for Team St. Croix.
Two other areas Hector touched upon were new regulations concerning the Economic Development Commission and promoting tourism.
She said the V.I. government failed to take the necessary steps to protect the EDC program and now the Virgin Islands were facing a "looming crisis."
She said more St. Croix residents were going to find themselves without jobs and the real estate market "was going to take a hard hit."
About tourism she said, "There is a Catch 22 situation. We are attempting to attract tourists by air but there are no hotel rooms."
She added, however, that tourism cannot be St. Croix's mainstay, that the island must diversify.
Chamber officials are tentatively scheduled to meet on the island with representatives from the cruise ship industry on Feb. 7 or Feb. 8.
Voting on other officers for the Chamber will continue through Friday.
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