The UVI Research and Technology Park (RTPark) announced on Monday that is has entered into a technical assistance contract with the National Development Council (NDC) to support, develop, and assist in the implementation of economic and community development programs, and also to prepare proposals to access the dollars necessary to expand access to capital for technology-based firms, as well as other businesses and projects that would strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
According to the release, the one-year contract with the New York-based non-profit officially commenced on July 1, 2019 and will be available to not only the RTPark and its current and prospective client companies, but also other public, quasi-public, and civic USVI organizations that are conceptualizing or implementing economic or community development initiatives in the territory. These include the central government, the USVI Economic Development Authority (EDA), the VI Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) and local non-profit foundations.
One of the largest (by assets under management), oldest and most geographically expansive U.S. Treasury Department- certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), NDC administers sizable amounts of capital and specializes in investing in and lending to small and medium-sized operating businesses and catalytic real estate projects (e.g., commercial, industrial, residential, mixed-use, public and non-profit facilities) that help to expand job opportunities for local residents and strengthen regional economies, according to the park.
NDC by the numbers:
NDC has supported economic development and community improvement projects in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Through this agreement with the RTPark, NDC will be working in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the first time, the release says.
The contract with NDC, called comprehensive by the RTPark, will allow the organization to help identify financing that supports selected development projects; review and evaluate capital projects being considered by USVI stakeholders; provide technical support or financial analysis with respect to economic and housing development program proposals; conduct economic development training, facilitate access to New Markets Tax Credits and other resources for economic revitalization; draft and submit a funding application for the capitalization of an economic development loan fund; as well as provide underwriting and credit analysis for candidate borrowers, among other professional services.
According to the RTPark’s Executive Director, Peter H. Chapman, “NDC’s breadth of development finance expertise, combined with a track record of achievement in helping to advance complex economic development and neighborhood revitalization initiatives across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, make it a logical candidate for a partnership with the RTPark and the USVI.”
Mr. Chapman further noted that he is particularly excited about the prospect of acquiring access to financing tools that have never been utilized in the territory, including federal Section 108 capital awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
“As we position the RTPark as a full-service economic development organization, it will be become increasingly important that we apply aggressive and creative strategies to facilitate access to alternative forms of financing for those pursuing projects that will help the USVI become a hub for advanced industries,” Mr. Chapman said.
Gov. Albert Bryan praised the partnership as one more positive indication that the territory is ripe for private sector investment.
“The Research and Technology Park over time has morphed into a tech incubator with a mission to push the Virgin Islands into the future,” said the territory’s leader. “The new partnership with the National Development Council will open the door for the Territory to begin planning for a changing workforce that will be focused on tech and innovation in the Caribbean.”
Daniel Marsh, CEO of NDC, said that NDC excited to begin working with the RTPark and other economic development organizations in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“A vibrant economy is based on innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.” Marsh said. “We look forward to building on local resources and talent to attract public federal funds as well as private capital to create jobs and improve the quality of life for Virgin Islanders.”
RTPark board chairman, Edward Thomas, said that the board looks forward to the RTPark working collaboratively with other community institutions through this partnership toward a shared goal of improving and evolving the Territory’s economy.
“The RTPark’s engagement of NDC for an array of economic development related technical assistance services not only underscores our commitment to growing the cluster of technology enterprises, but also our strong desire to be a resource for fellow Virgin Islands economic development organizations that are helping to improve the quality of life in the USVI through activities that promote business growth and revitalization of under-invested communities. We believe that the Territory on the whole is well-served by this collaborative approach,” Thomas said.
For more information about NDC, please visit www.ndconline.org.
For more information about the RTPark, please visit www.uvirtpark.net.