Virgin Islands Law Blog

Virgin Islands Law Blog

U.S. Virgin Islands law & politics

Tips for Planning a Smooth Business Succession

Posted in Business

You have likely spent many years building your business. It’s only sensible that you put plenty of effort into ensuring it lasts long after you are retired or have passed away.

Below are a few tips to help you create a smooth and successful plan of succession for your business:

  • Begin planning early: You might consider planning an exit strategy with your business plan. This means that from the very outset of your business operations, you will have a general idea of how you wish to pass down your business interests. You will have plenty of opportunities to adjust these exit plans over time as the circumstances of your business ownership and your personal life change, but it’s good to begin thinking about succession early in the life of your business.
  • Plan your training: Put together a cohesive plan for educating and training the next generation of your family to help them learn how to responsibly and competently run your business. You should have regular meetings with your family members and other heirs to go over all of your business plans and finances.
  • Have clear roles determined ahead of time: To avoid any potential hard feelings or confusion after you leave the business, make sure you have already established clear roles ahead of time for the people who will take control of your company. You do not want anyone to be surprised or disappointed when the time comes to hand over the reins to your business.
  • Encourage constant open communication: An open and ongoing discussion between you and your children can help you set realistic expectations for the future of the business. Having formal processes in place will help ensure this communication occurs with regularity and is clearly separate from your personal lives.
  • Work with a trusted business advisor: Seek the assistance of a business consultant or attorney who has previously worked with family-run companies and who can assist you with your succession planning and transition. This outside expertise can be extremely helpful and prevent you from making potentially damaging decisions for your company.
  • Address conflicts before they arise: If you have a thorough and clear business plan that addresses the business transition and who will take on which roles, you should not have a problem with conflicts. However, you should also consider if there are any existing feuds among family members that could complicate a future transition.

Having a clear and comprehensive succession plan is a major part of ensuring your business will last beyond your tenure and well into the future. For further guidance on succession planning and working on your business plan, speak with a trusted corporate planning attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Steven K. Hardy has significant experience in representing clients in many matters concerning small business formation, structuring and planning. He is a member of the Virgin Islands Bar Association and the State Bar of Georgia, and is active with the American Bar Association and the ABA Young Lawyers Division.

Frequently Asked Questions on Leave and Time Off Laws

Posted in Labor & Employment

Business owners in the U.S. Virgin Islands and throughout the United States must have a thorough understanding of wage and time laws and regulations. Below are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive on this issue.

Do I have to provide family and medical leave as a small business owner?

The answer to this question depends on the size of your business. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave in some circumstances, and up to 26 weeks of leave to care for family members injured in military service. However, these rules only apply to companies with more than 50 employees who work within a 75-mile radius. If your company does not meet these conditions, you do not have to provide FMLA leave.

How much notice am I allowed to require of employees seeking FMLA leave?

This depends on the reason the employee is seeking leave. If employees know far in advance of the reason for their leave, a minimum of 30 days’ notice is required. An example of this type of case would be a surgery scheduled well in advance.

However, if the employee’s reason for seeking leave is an emergency, the employee only needs to provide as much notice as is reasonably practical given the circumstances.

Am I required to allow paternity leave to male employees?

If your business is subject to the rules of the FMLA and the employee is eligible to take leave, you must allow up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a newborn child. This leave is unpaid and must be taken within the first year of the birth or adoption of the child.

Typically, employers don’t have to provide paid leave to either parent. However, if you offer paid leave to mothers, you must offer the same benefit to fathers. Otherwise, you could face a discrimination lawsuit. To that end, the policy for companies that offer paid leave is to provide what’s called “parental leave,” rather than maternity or paternity leave.

Am I required to give employees time off to fulfill certain civic duties?

A significant number of states and territories require employers to provide several hours of paid leave to allow employees to vote. No matter what, you cannot punish employees for taking time off to vote.

You do not have to pay employees for time taken off for jury duty, but again, you may not fire, demote or discipline any employee for being called in to jury duty. If you do, the employee could sue you for lost wages.

Finally, federal law requires employers to allow employees to take a maximum of five years off for military service and to take leave to fulfill various military duties.

For more information and guidance on your responsibilities as an employer regarding wages and leave, meet with a skilled U.S. Virgin Islands labor law attorney.

Ravinder S. Nagi is a shareholder and the Assistant Managing Attorney for BoltNagi. He is the chair of BoltNagi’s Litigation Department and the Labor and Employment Practice Group. He has represented numerous private and public companies in complex labor and employment cases of all types.

SBA Disaster Loan Program: Not Just for Businesses

Posted in Community Affairs

Recent Category 5 storms Irma and Maria ripped through the U.S. Virgin Islands delivering a catastrophic one-two punch unlike the Territory has ever experienced, leaving the islands and its residents decimated and in disarray.  Many of those affected have lost everything and will be facing a grueling recovery process as they attempt to begin again.  Fortunately, various forms of assistance are available to aid in the recovery process and this article will discuss some of the main aspects of the disaster relief loan program available to businesses and individuals through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).       

Established in 1953 by President Eisenhower with the signing of the Small Business Act, the SBA is a federal government agency that provides financial support to entrepreneurs, small businesses and individuals.  The mission of the SBA is “to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters.”

About SBA Disaster Loans

SBA disaster relief loans are the primary source of federal long-term disaster recovery funds for disaster damage not fully covered by insurance or other compensation.  A common misconception about SBA disaster loans is that they are only available to “small” businesses; however, SBA disaster loans provide low-interest, long-term loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters to repair or replace uninsured and/or underinsured disaster damaged property.  Obtaining an SBA disaster loan can be an affordable way for both individuals and businesses to recover from declared disasters.

The following are a few highlights of SBA disaster loans:

  • Eligible homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for home repair or replacement of their primary residences. 
  • Eligible homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property.
  • Businesses of all sizes can qualify for up to $2 million in low-interest loans to help cover physical damage.
  • Businesses suffering economic injury (inability to pay most ordinary and necessary financial obligations) that cannot be met as a result of the disaster can apply for up to $2 million.
  • Additional funds may be available to cover loss mitigation costs (improvements that will protect property against future damage).
  • Interest rates can be as low as 1.875% for homeowners and renters, 4% for businesses and 2.625% for private nonprofit organizations, with repayment terms up to 30 years.

Depending on the loan type, SBA disaster loan proceeds can be utilized for a variety of costs including: 

  • Repair or replacement of real property (e.g. buildings, primary residences).
  • Repair or replacement of personal property (e.g. vehicles, furniture, equipment, inventory).
  • Economic injury to businesses.
  • Mortgage refinancing where:
    • Mortgage is evidenced by a recorded lien;
    • The applicant does not have available credit elsewhere;
    • The applicant has suffered substantial uncompensated disaster damage  (40% or more of the value of the property); and
    • The applicant intends to repair the damage
  • Costs to relocate

It is also worth noting that applicants can apply before receiving any insurance proceeds.  SBA can provide loans for repairs while applicants wait for their insurance to pay; however, once insurance pays, loan recipients are generally required to repay their SBA disaster loan that covered the repair or replacement costs.

Application Process    

SBA relief loan applicants generally have 60 days after the declared disaster to apply.  The SBA may extend this date under certain circumstances.  It is recommended, however, that applicants begin the process as early as possible. 

The first step is to apply to FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or www.disastrassistance.gov.  In many instances FEMA will then direct applicants to apply for an SBA disaster loan, failure of which to do may result in denial of FEMA assistance later. 

The SBA disaster loan application can be summarized in the following three-step process:

  1. Apply for the Loan
  1. Property Verified and Loan Processing Decision Made
  • SBA reviews the applicants credit before conducting an onsite inspection of the damages caused by the disaster.
  • An SBA verifier inspects the applicant’s disaster damaged property to estimate the total physical losses.
  • A loan officer will determine the full eligibility during processing, taking into consideration any insurance or other recoveries.  The insurance recovery does not have to be final for SBA to approve the loan.  A loan officer works with the applicant to obtain all the information needed to reach a final loan determination.  SBA’s goal is to arrive at a decision on the application within two to three weeks.  A loan officer will contact the applicant to discuss the loan recommendation and explain the next step in the process.  In addition to speaking with the loan officer all loan decisions are communicated in writing.
  1. Loan Closed and Funds Disbursed
  • SBA will prepare and send Loan Closing Documents for the borrower’s signature.  Once the executed Loan Closing Documents are received, an initial disbursement may be made within five days.
  • A case manager will be assigned to work with the borrower through the disbursement process and schedule subsequent disbursements until the loan is fully disbursed.  The loan may be adjusted after closing due to changing circumstances, such as increasing the loan for unexpected repair costs or reducing the loan due to additional insurance proceeds.

Contacts for Help and Additional Resources

Those affected who are in need of assistance should also consider reaching out to their local government.  State, territorial and local governments are often better equipped to handle emergency relief situations after a disaster, as they are intended to be the first responders. 

Applicants and borrowers with questions, in need of an application or would like to request the status of their loan application should contact the following:

SBA

Customer Service: 1-800-659-2955

Website: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

Email: disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

FEMA

Customer Service: 1-800-621-FEMA 93362)

Website: www.disasterassistance.gov

J. Nash Davis is an Associate Attorney with BoltNagi, an established and respected law firm assisting a wide range of individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

If I Have a Real Estate Agent, Do I Need an Attorney to Close the Sale of My House?

Posted in Real Estate

One question realtors and real estate attorneys alike frequently hear is whether the services of a lawyer are truly necessary for closing the sale of the home. The answer depends largely on the location and circumstances of the sale.

In general, there are some questions you can ask yourself before selling or buying a home. The answers will inform your need for an attorney.

Questions for people selling a home

If you answer yes to any of the below questions, the services of a real estate attorney could be beneficial for your sale:

  • Is your property in some form of financial distress?
  • Are you the heir or executor for the property of a deceased owner?
  • Do you have any judgments or liens in your background?
  • Do you own the home in joint tenancy with an owning partner who is unwilling to cooperate?
  • Do you have an instinct that something could go wrong with the sale for any reason, whether it is related to the property or some other aspect of the sale?

Questions for people buying a home

If you answer yes to any of the below questions, the services of a real estate attorney could be beneficial for your home purchase:

  • Are you purchasing a home in a city far away from where you currently live?
  • Are you purchasing a bank-owned property or one being sold via a short sale?
  • Are you purchasing property that is being sold as part of an estate sale?
  • Are you purchasing commercial property for your business?
  • Are you purchasing property that potentially has structural weaknesses or other similar problems?
  • Are you purchasing a property in a flood zone, a tornado-prone area, a property with high radon or toxicity levels or a property in any other type of problematic area?

If the above questions do not apply to you, you’ll likely be able to work only with your realtor. Realtors understand the contracts used in your area. It is the purchases and sales that have complicating factors that require the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Real estate lawyers understand many nuances of the industry that go far beyond general contract law. They are also better able to negotiate fair transactions in these more complicated circumstances, seeking the best deal for you.

For more information on the processes associated with buying or selling a home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, speak with an experienced real estate attorney.

J. Nash Davis is an associate attorney at BoltNagi PC in the Real Estate and Financial Services Practice Group.

Avoiding Repair Fraud After a Disaster

Posted in Community Affairs

U.S. Virgin Islands residents affected by recent back-to-back Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria have already absorbed a crippling blow in the form of damaged homes, lost roofs and possessions, and significant interruptions in business and employment. As if this isn’t enough, Virgin Islanders now face another growing concern: repair scams.

Insurance and repair scams are common and inevitably follow disasters. Those perpetuating the fraud, also known as “storm chasers”, seek to exploit the victims of disasters and their need to rebuild and recover. Storm victims need to protect themselves and be vigilant, and certain preventative measures should be employed to avoid becoming further victimized by disaster repair fraud.

The following are some precautions to consider:

  • File a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. Many insurers have a time certain to file claims, such as 60 days after the loss.
  • Document the destruction. Take detailed, interior and exterior photos of your property and damaged areas.
  • If someone approaches you and claims to be an insurance adjuster, do not invite them into your home or place of business. Ask for company ID. If they don’t have ID, ask them to leave immediately. If they do have ID, call your insurance company to verify.

When hiring a contractor:

  • Hire only licensed, reputable companies or individuals and beware of strangers who call or knock on your door for personal information.
  • Get their full name, address and phone number(s).
  • Check the name of the contractor or the company with the DLCA.
  • Ask for evidence of a business license or other qualifications.
  • Ask for references and contact these past customers to determine their experience with the contractor.
  • Check with the Virgin Islands Department of Licensing & Consumer Affairs and courthouse for any complaints, criminal history and civil cases against the contractor.
  • Get several estimates (at least 3) before making a selection.
  • Get a written contract and don’t sign anything you don’t understand.
  • Specify the work to be done, the time line for completion and the price.
  • Do not pay for the entire job, or a substantial portion thereof, upfront. Pay as little as possible upfront, insist on paying when the job is complete, and try not to pay in cash; instead, pay by credit card or check to create a paper trail. Do not make any final payments until you have inspected and are satisfied with the repairs.
  • Continue paying your mortgage unless you have worked out a deferment or forbearance with your lender first.
  • Keep all receipts for any materials or repairs personally incurred.
  • Be wary of “robocalls” asking for insurance premium payments. These robocalls tell victims that if they don’t immediately pay, usually over the phone by credit card, their insurance premiums will be canceled. Always contact your insurance agent directly.

It is important to remember that government assistance is available. The National Center for Disaster Fraud, formed in response to Hurricane Katrina, has a hotline you can call if you suspect fraud at 866.720.5721, or email at disaster@leo.gov The Center serves as a national clearinghouse and refers cases to the proper law enforcement agency anywhere in the country. Victims of fraud are also encouraged to report incidents.

J. Nash Davis is an associate Attorney with BoltNagi, an established and respected law firm assisting a wide range o

What is Title Insurance and Why Do I Need It?

Posted in Real Estate

Title insurance is an important type of insurance policy for anyone who owns property. But before one can understand why title insurance is so important, it is necessary to understand what a title is.

Whenever you buy a piece of land, you receive title to that land. This signifies your right, as the owner, to own and use that property as you wish.

The way a home or a business is titled varies depending on the circumstances of the purchase. You might, for example, hold a title as a tenant in common or as a joint tenant. There might be a right of survivorship at play, as well.

Rights may also be given or sold for specific uses of land. Someone other than the person considered to be the owner of the property might have the right to utility, air or mineral rights for that property. In addition, any bank that has a mortgage on the property owns an interest in that property, as does anyone who has done work on the property and then filed a lien against it.

In some cases, the government could have liens against the property if you fail to pay your taxes, and a local governmental agency could have the right to string utility lines over your property.

Title insurance and its benefits

After you determine if there are any limitations on how the property may be used or liens against the title, you may then purchase title insurance. This can be confusing, as title insurance covers certain events related to the title that have already happened, but not anything that happens to the title after it is issued. For example, if you stop paying your property taxes, your title insurance policy will not cover you.

However, imagine someone owned a property for many years before you and stopped paying their property taxes. You would be covered for any liens on the title under your title policy, as the action that lead to the lien was not your fault or responsibility.

Before a title company offers to issue a policy, it will perform a search to find if there are such limitations or problems with the title in existence. This helps to minimize the risk of potential claims, which allows the company to offer its policies for a low, one-time fee.

There are some problems commonly found in title searches that are relatively easy to rectify. These include improper vesting, incorrect names, outstanding judgments and judgments, easements, tax liens and incorrect notary acknowledgements. 

Title insurance can be beneficial to business and homeowners alike. For more information about obtaining a title insurance policy and why it could be beneficial for you, consult a skilled real estate attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Alliance Title & Trust Company, LLC is an agent for Stewart Title Guaranty Company, and First American Title Insurance Company, and a subsidiary of BoltNagi PC.

Avoid These Key Mistakes When Responding to an EEOC Complaint

Posted in Labor & Employment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal regulatory agency that exists to protect employees or job candidates from discrimination based on certain protected characteristics, including age, gender and race. There are many laws the EEOC considers when analyzing cases. Of paramount importance is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which deals with employers of 15 or more workers.

For most the last two decades, the number of complaints under the EEOC guidelines has remained steady at about 90,000 per year, despite the increased awareness of EEOC requirements on the part of employers.  In some cases, employers can make matters even worse by responding to the complaints in an inappropriate way.

Below are a few of the most common errors employers make when responding to these complaints:

  • Ignoring the complaint: In some cases, employers ignore the EEOC complaint because they do not believe the law applied to them. However, in cases of racial discrimination, the Title VII rules previously mentioned do not apply-the law instead covers employers of all sizes. Some locations also offer greater protection to employees that the EEOC, so in those cases, the law dictates that the business follow local rules.
  • You do not have an investigation plan: Before you ever address an EEOC complaint, you should have an investigation plan prepared to guide you in your response. This plan should include all the evidence you need to compile, including data, employee statements and various documents. Some of this information you will have accumulated over time, so being able to quickly access it and use it in your investigation and response is crucial.
  • Not providing enough information: When you submit your position statement, you must be thorough with the information you provide so that you can be consistent with your claims throughout the entire investigation. If you keep adding information during the process, it can reflect poorly on you.
  • Retaliating against the complaining employee: Retaliating against an employee who filed an EEOC complaint against your business can land you in legal hot water. Even small instances of treating an employee differently can be violations of federal law. There are many rules in place that protect workers against retaliation.
  • Not taking the process as a learning opportunity: Whether you win or lose in a lawsuit, you should use the process a learning opportunity to improve your practices moving forward. Even if you are cleared of wrongdoing, conduct a review of your company’s policies and implement preventive measures that will provide for consistent EEOC compliance.

For more information and guidance on how to conduct yourself during an EEOC complaint investigation, meet with a skilled employment law attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Ravinder S. Nagi is Assistant Managing Attorney and Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice Group at BoltNagi, an employment and labor law firm serving businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Conducting a SWOT Analysis, Feasibility Study for Your New Business

Posted in Business

Even before you begin writing a business plan for your new venture, there are two things you should do: conduct a feasibility study and undergo a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis. These processes will help you determine if your business will be viable and if it is worth the time, effort and money it will take to launch and build it.

What is a feasibility study?

A feasibility study has several parts, starting with a description of your business. This is the easy part—you simply need to provide as much detail as you can about what your business will do, such as the products and services you will offer. You should also provide detailed descriptions of how the business will be organized and who will run it.

The second part is a market description. Who is your target audience for your business? How big is this market, and is there growth potential in this market moving forward? Will you be able to improve your product or service or add new products or services to increase your target market size? What competition will you have? These are all examples of questions you need to be able to answer as part of your feasibility study.

Third, you will need to outline the technical details of your products or services, including the equipment or technology required for delivering them. Other things to consider are the kinds of materials you will need, transportation necessary for product delivery, the availability of resources and utilities and the size of the facilities you might need.

Finally, you must consider the financial factors at play in developing your business. How much money will it take to get the business started, and then to keep it going? For example, you might have to either purchase or lease expensive equipment, furniture or office space. How will you get the capital you need at various stages of your company’s growth?

SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis likely involves many of the same elements as a feasibility study. The goal is the same—to determine the viability of your potential business.

Strengths

When looking at your strengths, you should primarily consider what makes your business special. This could include any unique characteristics of your company that set you apart from the competition, access to the materials you need, the distinctiveness of a product or service, the experience of your staff and/or access to solid investments and financing.

Weaknesses

What aspects of your business could potentially hold you back? Immediate concerns could be a lack of financing or experienced staff, but other issues could be high costs of production or products that are not exactly innovative or unique.

Opportunities

Factors outside your business could put you in a better position to succeed. Examples could include a lack of competition in your general area or target market, a growing demand for your product or service or new advances in technology that will make it easier to sell or improve your offering.

Threats

Threats are the inverse of opportunities. To that end, examples could include stiff competition, a bad business location, regulations that make it more costly or difficult to do business or changes in your target consumers that could inhibit your ability to succeed.

For the guidance you need when starting a business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, work with an experienced business and corporate planning attorney.

 

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney at BoltNagi, a respected and well-established corporate law firm, proudly serving entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

4 Valid Reasons Why You May Choose to Challenge a Will

Posted in Tax & Estate Planning

While the clear majority of wills pass through the probate process without much problem, there are some circumstances in which a person (usually an unhappy beneficiary) decides to challenge a will’s validity. There are many reasons why people may decide to challenge a will—and not just because they are bitter about not inheriting what they had expected.

The following are four of the most common reasons why this may happen:

1. You have reason to believe a loved one was under duress at the time he or she made the will

As people get older, they may become susceptible to emotional and mental manipulation. The most common type of “duress” is when others put so much pressure on the testator that he or she feels obligated to put them in the will or give them certain property. If, for example, a mother lives with her daughter and that daughter continually pressures the mother to write her other siblings out of the will, it could constitute duress and undue influence.

However, it is not enough for there to simply be nagging, threats or even verbal abuse. There is a heavy burden of proof on the accuser in these situations. The accuser must be able to show the alleged influencer exerted such extreme pressure that it essentially caused the testator to lose his or her free will. Typically, the accuser must prove some degree of mental incompetence on the part of the testator.

2. You believe your parent has become mentally incapable of creating a will

The most common example of mental incompetence is the onset of late stages of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. If a physician diagnosed the testator as being in these stages of an illness, that person may have lacked what is called the “testamentary capacity” needed to create a valid will. The “being of sound mind and body” provision often included in the language of last wills and testaments acts as a sort of disclaimer that the testator is, indeed, capable of creating a valid will in his or her current state of health.

3. You believe the testator was a victim of fraud

In some cases, testator might not even realize they were signing or creating a will—they were just told by someone they trusted to sign a document. In other cases, they are aware they are signing a will, but not of its contents, and were likely misled as to what those contents were.

As with accusations of duress, there’s a heavy burden of proof on the accuser in fraud accusations. And again, the accuser must be able to prove some degree of mental incapacity existed.

 4. The formalities of creating a will were not followed per the law

The will must be signed by the testator and two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the will. Additionally, the will must be written. Only in rare cases is an oral will considered valid.

For more information and guidance on how to create a will that reflects your wishes, or to challenge a will you believe is invalid, speak with a skilled U.S. Virgin Islands estate planning attorney today.

 

Steven K. Hardy is Chair of the Corporate, Tax and Estate Planning Practice Group at BoltNagi, a trusted and established estate and tax planning law firm, serving individuals and families throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Mapp Administration Focuses on Improving Cruise Ship Experience to Boost Tourism Industry

Posted in Labor & Employment

As tourism competition increases throughout the Caribbean, officials in the U.S. Virgin Islands are focused on improving the cruise ship experience for passengers visiting the territory to help keep tourists coming back for more.

 

The Ports of the Virgin Islands Charlotte Amalie Task Force recently met to discuss plans to improve this experience, according to a press release from the Department of Tourism. According to Governor Kenneth Mapp, there is a need to re-engineer and re-imagine the product offered by the U.S. Virgin Islands and elevate the overall guest experience. Mapp also said the territory needs to “develop not only what people want today, but also anticipate their future needs.”

 

The following is a brief overview of some of the topics of discussion at the task force meeting, covering many different aspects of improving tourism experiences:

 

  • The Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement, Lloyd Bough, Jr., reported an extension of the deadline for submitting proposals to establish a harbor transportation service in Charlotte Amalie Harbor due to strong interest in the contract for the project, along with a significant number of questions submitted to the department.
  • Department of Public Works Commissioner Gustav James provided an update on the $40 million Veterans Drive project, which is expected to have a contract awarded in September.
  • The Department of Tourism Commissioner, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, provided an update about recent meetings with MSC Cruises and Carnival Corporation on general cruise and tourism-related topics.
  • The task force proposed establishing a new berthing committee to make better use of all five berths on St. Thomas. It also proposed improved communication methods with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and various congressional officials to get additional officers at seaports and airports in the territory for a smoother, more streamlined passenger experience.
  • Members of the task force discussed potentially dredging the Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the importance of doing so. Dredging the harbor would allow for the accommodation of larger-class vessels. However, $12 million would need to be raised to make the project happen.
  • The task force discussed a new “Ports of the Virgin Islands” advertising campaign, promoting the advantage of duty-free products purchased in the territory.
  • The task force confirmed plans to have a town hall meeting with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, the USVI community and various cruise line executives.

Similar task forces are being explored elsewhere in the territory, with one scheduled to launch in the island of St. Croix in the fall. These task forces are made up of representatives from various U.S. Virgin Islands businesses and agencies, such as retailers, ground transportation operators, restaurants, spirits distributors, the West Indian Company, the Department of Tourism, the Virgin Islands Port Authority, the Department of Public Works and the Office of the Governor.

To learn more about the various efforts underway in the territory to boost the tourism industry and the effect they could have on employment, work with an experienced business and corporate law attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Ravinder S. Nagi is a shareholder and the Assistant Managing Attorney for BoltNagi. He is the chair of BoltNagi’s Litigation Department and the Labor and Employment Practice Group. He has represented numerous private and public companies in complex labor and employment cases of all types.