Bureau of Economic Research seeks input on new economic plan

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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. government is starting to draft the next five-year economic plan for the territory and is seeking public input as part of the process.

Starting Monday, the V.I. Bureau of Economic Research and its contractor, SYGMAPCS, will host public meetings across the territory to hear from residents about the current economy and what should be included in the plan.

Last week, Government House announced it awarded a $117,000 competitively bid contract to former Bureau of Economic Research Director Lauritz Mills to draft the next Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy plan for the territory.

The plan is a document used to guide the territory's economic development, as well as to ensure the territory continues to receive federal funding and technical assistance.

The territory produces the economic plan every five years and provides annual updates. The new plan must be submitted to the federal government by September 2015.

The last plan was approved and submitted to the U.S. Economic Development Administration in 2009. The last annual update the territory completed was 2012; however, the 2013 update was just sent to the governor for approval, according to Bureau of Economic Research Director Wharton Berger.

The funding for the contract, awarded to Mills' company SYGMAPCS, comes from a federal grant designed to fund economic development initiatives, Berger said.

The contract specifies that the economic plan must include sections describing the background of the economic development of the region; an analysis of economic development opportunities and challenges; a comprehensive list of goals and objectives for economic development; a description of private and public sector relationships; identification of regional projects, plans and activities; and a plan of action for implementing the goals and objectives, according to Government House.

To help start that process, the contractor and the Bureau of Economic Research are turning to the community for help.

The meetings are:

- On St. Thomas from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at the University of the Virgin Islands, School of Business, Room 110.

- On St. Croix from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Gov. Melvin H. Evans Center, University of the Virgin Islands.

- On St. John from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Julius Sprauve Elementary School.

- On Water Island from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Pavillion.

For more information, call the Bureau of Economic Research at 774-9793.

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