RT Park board: Talk of change has hurt effort to bring in new businesses

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ST. CROIX - Ongoing discussions about revising benefits received by University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park tenants are hurting efforts to bring in new businesses, according to the park's board.

During the park's annual meeting Monday, Executive Director David Zumwalt said the park faces an uncertain future in attracting new businesses.

He described several businesses vaguely as having interest, but not being ready to make commitments while others seem to be moving toward setting the groundwork to set up shop at the park.

Some high-quality prospects who could bring significant revenue to the park are having second thoughts as talks continue of benefits being walked back and lack of clarity on what is being expected for workforce development obligations, Zumwalt said.

While there is continued serious interest, Zumwalt said they need to get clarification from the attorney general and the governor regarding benefits.

The board voted unanimously to elect Edward Thomas and Adrian Garner as its new executive leaders.

Before Thomas accepted the nomination, he made a point to remind the board that his term of office expires in December and he had intended not to seek an additional reappointment to the board.

The Real Estate Administration Committee did not meet, but director of facilities and operations Denise Kurg provided an update on the contingency budget plan and a summary of items of interest or concern at the building.

The conference center has hosted seven events, two of which generated $5,500 and the other five events were non-revenue generating, Kurg said.

The Tech Park is on scheduled with new metering efforts and replacement solar panels for the building have been installed and other panels will be soon available, Kurg said.

She said they are awaiting an inspection by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to get an inspection certificate, which must be in place before net metering is approved by the V.I. Water and Power Authority.

Executive Director David Zumwalt said there was no finance and audit committee meeting for the quarter, but an update was provided for the board.

The current budget is for $1.8 million, Zumwalt said, and the fiscal year 2015 budget is proposed to be very similar.

Carol Jackson, comptroller, reported that based on the park's current cash position, and taking into consideration that the park has taken on some expenses for the year, it puts the likelihood of a balanced budget out of reach and prospect for improvement remain uncertain for the remainder of the fiscal year.

She said money expected from the government were never released because of cash flow shortfall, according to a letter from the Office of Management and Budget.

The ad hoc committee's report relative to a search for an executive director to replace Zumwalt was put on pause until the board's executive session, but no decisions were made, based on the report after the closed session.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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