USVI & Puerto Rico to benefit from US$1.4B federal program

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A number of agriculture projects on the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are set to receive significant investments from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The funds are part of a $1.4 billion program to help diverse rural America keep resources and wealth right at home.

“For some time, rural America has been at the mercy of an extraction economy, where resources are taken from rural lands only to create jobs and economic opportunity in urban and suburban areas,” Tom Vilsack, USDA Sectary of State, said in a statement.

 “That’s why USDA is committed to doing what we can to change that extraction economy into a circular economy, where value is added closer to home, so the wealth created in rural areas stays in rural areas. Today’s announcement underlines the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to helping transform the economy and bring high-paying jobs and economic opportunities to the people who need it most.”

In Puerto Rico, 15 projects will receive loans that range from US$9,785 to US$250,000.

Abacus International, Central Wholesale and Tramway Properties are the US Virgin island organisations that will receive loans.

The USDA explained how the three USVI organisations will be utilising their funding:

• Central Wholesale Inc in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands will use US$4,450,000 to purchase a building and open a second location. The new 16,000 square ft location is near the cruise port and well-populated areas of Estate Thomas, Havensite and Frenchman’s Bay. The store will provide tourist items for visitors from the cruise port.

• Tramway Properties LLC in St Thomas, Virgin Islands will use US$5,000,000 to refinance a real estate debt and provide working capital. The project consists of a gondola skylift, skyride to Paradise Point and providing transportation to passengers on Flag Hill in St Thomas. Paradise Point is a popular location with restaurants and retail shops that provide panoramic views of the harbour at 700 ft. elevation.

• Abacus International LLC in St. Croix, Virgin Islands will use US$5,100,000 to purchase equipment for the company.

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