ST THOMAS, USVI -- US Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh has written to the region’s US Small Business Association (SBA) director seeking a dialogue that will spur increased lending to commercial enterprises in the territory.
Governor John de Jongh
In the correspondence, de Jongh thanked SBA district director Yvette Collazo for her continued support of small business activity in the US Virgin Islands. He cited the recent announcement that a new Surety Bonding Agency, participating in an SBA program, will begin bonding construction projects in the territory, supporting one of the most important sectors for small business ownership and employment.
The governor expressed concern, however, about the scarcity of meaningful commercial loan activity from US Virgin Islands banks with access to the financial vehicles made available by the Small Business Administration.
In the last year, from July 2012 to July 2013, local banks made $677,000 worth of SBA commercial loans in the US Virgin Islands, a small improvement from the $435,000 loaned the previous year.
“These are dismal numbers,” de Jongh wrote.
For that reason, the governor requested a discussion with Collazo on how to achieve the strategic goals she laid out for the district, including increased use of the SBA to spur economic activity, a more targeted outreach to specific communities, educating credit unions on tools available to them, greater use of Certified Development Company loans, and embracing nontraditional programs, such as innovation research.
“In order for our economy to grow, we need to ensure that our businesses have meaningful access to funding and with the SBA indicating they are a willing partner, there is no reason more cannot be done. My Administration embraces all of the SBA’s initiatives. We just need more to be done by our banks in terms of participation and providing the opportunities,” de Jongh reiterated.
“I look forward to hearing from you on how best to proceed in the best interest of our small businesses and in the growth of our economy,” de Jongh wrote.