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Contacts: John Atwood, (202) 482-4085
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $1.4 Million in the Virgin Islands to Stimulate Job Growth in the Wake of Hurricane Otto and Tropical Storm Tomas

WASHINGTON - Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today announced two Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants totaling $1.4 million to the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) to help stimulate job growth in the wake of Hurricane Otto and Tropical Storm Tomas.

"The Obama administration remains committed to helping communities impacted by natural disasters rebound and rebuild stronger than ever," said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. "The EDA grants announced today will provide emerging entrepreneurs and businesses in the U.S. Virgin Islands with the space and technical assistance they need to grow and prosper while helping the Territory study ways to diversify the economy to protect form the impact of future natural disasters."

"I am pleased that the U.S. Virgin Islands requests to the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration's program, which I supported, have been granted," said Congresswoman Donna Christensen. "In light of our current economic challenges, it is gratifying to have the support of the federal government. I thank the Secretary and the EDA staff for their support."

The investments announced today include:

  • $1 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands' Economic Development Authority to support the establishment of an incubator program to assist small businesses and emerging entrepreneurs. With a focus on growing sustainable businesses, the new incubator will target the professional service, food and agribusiness, tourism, e-commerce, and information technology industries. By offering technical assistance on the establishment, operation, and administration of small businesses, as well as grants, training, and mentoring services to encourage increased entrepreneurial activities, this project will strengthen and diversify the Territory's economy and make it more resilient in future disasters.

  • $440,000 to the U.S. Virgin Islands' Bureau of Economic Research to conduct an extensive reality-based assessment of the Virgin Islands' economic, social, and financial strengths and assets to attract and grow new industries to diversify the economy and stimulate growth in the impacted region. The project will assist the Territory in becoming more economically resilient following future natural disasters.

The projects are part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support.

Within the context of the administration's National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), EDA serves as the Coordinating Agency on behalf of the Department of Commerce for the Economic Recovery Support Function (RSF) to coordinate the activities of a diverse group of partner agencies supporting recovery in disaster-impacted communities. The activities consist primarily of improved information sharing and the leveraging of existing resources to make a positive impact for communities affected by disasters.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
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.