USVI Alliance plans its second summit this month in Atlanta

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ST. THOMAS - A group of Virgin Islanders living in the states who formed an organization called the USVI Alliance Inc. will host its second economic summit at the end of the month in Atlanta.

Last year, the group conducted a similar event in Washington.

The idea behind the group is to get Virgin Islanders living outside the territory and those living inside the territory to come together, network and learn more about bringing business and talent back to the Virgin Islands.

The USVI Alliance officially was started about one year ago by three Virgin Islanders living in the states: Bernard Joseph, Roland Riviere and Loán Sewer.

"However, it started before then actually, with the three of us sitting down discussing the diaspora," Joseph said.

Riviere lives in Washington; Sewer lives in Atlanta; and Joseph lives in New York.

They saw the potential that people like them had to help the territory, whether that was moving back to invest in building industries and business or taking leadership positions in the private or public sectors or networking and helping local businesses find talent or resources through Virgin Islands connections in the states.

They also wanted to promote the territory in the states as a place to do business and find quality employment.

"In the Virgin Islands there's a lot of talent, a lot of skills, there's a lot going on in the Virgin Islands," Joseph said. "We want to find and engage those living in the states and get them excited about the positive development in the Virgin Islands."

He said many people did not want to move away from the territory, but they left to pursue education and then met spouses, had children, landed good jobs and got wrapped up in a life outside the territory.

"But you're missing home," he said.

The alliance and the summits it has been organizing are designed to promote and develop the strength of the territory.

"We're not taking away from what's going on, we're not saying, 'Oh those at home don't know what they're doing,' " Joseph said. "Sometimes we have to reach people where they're at before they can come to the Virgin Islands. So far, it's been working."

About 215 people attended last year's summit in Washington, according to Joseph. He said they came from the private and public sector and traveled from the territory as well from as places such as Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

The gathering was billed as an economic summit, and the organizers wanted Virgin Islanders living in the states to get a clear picture of the state of the territory's economy.

Last year, the summit produced direct results for people, he said.

"There were people that came to the summit that made ties back to the Virgin Islands and offered employment back in the Virgin Islands," Joseph said.

This year's summit, scheduled for May 20-22 in Atlanta, will focus on ways to diversify industry in the territory.

All events will take place at the Doubletree by Hilton Atlanta Downtown Hotel. A reception featuring Virgin Islands talent from the Atlanta metro area will take place the evening of May 20, and the summit itself will be all day May 21-22.

Register online at by clicking on the image for the summit attendance and/or sponsorship. Tickets are $150 per person and include registration, a pre-summit reception and meals.

Joseph said the organization is planning to host a third summit in New York next year.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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