The Governor included Energy, Healthcare and Public Safety among his top 2013 priorities. Gov. de Jongh also took time to recognize the participants present from St. Croix's Junior Achievement group and congratulated The Chamber and others for supporting the program that "instill[s] a notion of entrepreneurship"
"We are no longer in a situation where we can look for or rely on a single-employer system," Gov. de Jongh said, adding that the territory's strength relies in it's "diverse and dynamic" business community, especially on St. Croix.
"More local jobs were created in 2012 on St. Croix than anywhere else in the Territory," Gov. de Jongh said.
Attorney Mark Eckard, President of The Chamber's 2013 Board of Directors, introduced the Governor and delivered an inspiring commentary on the positive aspects of doing business on St. Croix.
"We all love this place and we, the St. Croix business community, are our island's strength and hope. We create jobs. We create wealth. We fund the government through the taxes we pay. We innovate. We believe. And, most importantly, we must lead. And we must sell. We must each sell St. Croix every chance we get."
Hands shot up across the packed restaurant of The Palms at Pelican Cove when President Eckard asked for a show of hands of everyone in the audience who would commit to bringing at least three visitors to St. Croix in 2013.
President Eckard announced that The Chamber Board has chosen Energy as its primary focus for the next three years during a retreat in January.
"Our energy crisis poses a life and death threat to the St. Croix business community and, frankly, we are running out of time, " he said. "There is no other objective so important to our business community as lowering the cost of energy. NOW."
President Eckard stated that the Board of Directors' responsibilty to Chamber members is to "(i) responsibly and productively advocate to the Government and (ii) to get you all the information that we can so that you can manage and plan for the growth of your businesses."
President Eckard said 2013 was a tremendous growth year for The Chamber and the Board expects 2013 to be even stronger. Another core growth goal for The Chamber is to diversify the overall membership to mirror the great diversity of the island-wide business community.
He invited all business owners and community members to join the Unified Voice of St. Croix Business by joining The Chamber. Membership information is avialble at http://www.stxchamber.org/
The St. Croix Chamber of Commerce Business Awards were presented during the breakfast event.
New Business: ConnectSpaceVI;
Business of the Year: Mt. Welcome Pharmacy; Tamarind Reef Hotel: Undercover Books; Caribbean Printing & Marketing; Seaborne Airlines
Business Person of the Year: Wendy Solomon of GoToStCroix.com;
Non Profit of the Year: St. Croix Foundation; CrimeStoppersVI;
New Business: John Eddie's Low Life Bar & Refuge
Business of the Year: Caribbean Printing & Marketing
Business Person of the Year: Wendy Solomon of GoToStCroix
Non-Profit of the Year: Women's Coalition of St. Croix
For more information on the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce visit http://www.stxchamber.org. To schedule and interview with President Eckard, contact Perry Sheraw at 340-514-4884 or firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.sugarmillmedia.com.