Nov. 17, 2005 David M. Zumwalt said Thursday about the UVI Research and Technology Park on St. Croix, "Although you don't see any dirt flying yet, a lot of work has been done."
Zumwalt took over as executive director for the Tech Park at the beginning of this month. He will be responsible for its management and, according to a UVI press release, "will be instrumental in establishing strategic business partnerships to accelerate the Park's expansion and development."
In an interview Thursday, Zumwalt gave credit to the Park's founding executive director, Malcolm Kirwan, for getting the project off the ground. He said Kirwan would remain on board in an advisory capacity.
Zumwalt said the Park "exists to create economic opportunity in the territory by attracting technology-based businesses."
He said that St. Croix, with so much broadband communication resources available, has an opportunity to create business opportunities for large and small businesses that want to do business worldwide.
He said the Park should, as a high tech communication HUB, be able to facilitate everything from small, local entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. Besides the groundwork laid by Kirwan, Zumwalt cited the $7 million dollar loan recently approved by the Senate for the Park. He said, "things are moving forward and they are moving at a reasonable pace."
However, he admitted a key element to attracting businesses to the Park would be tax incentives made available through the Economic Development Commission program. The program's regulations changed when the U.S. Congress passed the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 last November. The changes have been a source of frustration for V.I. busineses and government officials, as they try to understand how to define V.I. source income and V.I. residency, which were both altered by the 2004 law.
Zumwalt said the businesses the Park wishes to attract are only concerned about the source income rules, and he is confident that when the U.S. Treasury defines those clearly, they will be favorable to those companies.
Still, he said that clear definition is needed to jump-start the Park.
The Tech Park offices presently are located in a renovated dorm building on UVI's St. Croix campus. Buildings to house companies in the Tech Park are proposed in the field to the right of the palm-lined drive leading up to campus buildings.
Zumwalt said he had a timeline when he would like to see buildings built, but did not want to make that public. He said no buildings would be built before companies made commitments to locate there.
Zumwalt founded and served as chairman and CEO of Dallas-based CNet, Inc., a provider of operational support system software and technology solutions to the worldwide wireless communications industry. During the course of his career, according to a press release, he has "established significant customer relationships with telecommunications carriers, manufacturers and service providers in 40 countries."
"I am delighted that we have been able to get someone of David's caliber and experience to take over leadership of the Park," said Dr. Auguste E. Rimpel Jr., chair of the Research and Technology Park Board of Directors. "I am looking forward to working closely with him to bring the Park into full fruition." The UVI press release went on to say that "Zumwalt has been active as an investor, advisor and director in venture capital and private equity initiatives in emerging market sectors, including technology incubators in Dallas, Austin and Richardson, Texas.
Zumwalt said that his family had made numerous trips to the Virgin Islands and was excited about relocating here. As of Wednesday, the family had been on island three weeks.
He has two youngsters who will be attending school on St. Croix. One of the family hobbies is sailing, and they like to snorkel.
Zumwalt is a graduate of Rice University in Houston. He has been named a Fellow of the Radio Club of America in recognition of his wireless industry contributions.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.