Governor Bryan Focused on Workforce, Hurricane Recovery, Trade While Visiting DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Education, workforce, hurricane recovery and more. The Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan, Junior focused on a lot of issues important to the Islands while in our nation’s capital this week. He sat down with our Washington DC bureau about his week and what he’s bringing back to the Islands.   

“It’s been a fantastic trip to DC,” said Governor Bryan.  

It’s been a busy week in Washington for the Governor. He co-chaired the National Governor Association’s task force on education, workforce and community investment, focusing on the Farm Bill and it’s priorities for the Islands. He also met with President Biden. Bryan said he thanked him for the $1.1-billion dollars in federal matching funds to help the Islands’ recovery efforts from hurricanes Irma and Maria.  

“Every state must come up with 25 percent of FEMA repairs,” said Bryan. “The Virgin Islands only has to come up with ten, so we’re at 15-billion dollars worth of repairs that we need but we only have 500-million. We would need $1.5 billion in order to be ten percent. So what the president said was I’m gonna make it so instead of you having to come up with ten percent, you have to come up with two percent. So the value of that is $1.1-billion dollars. So it was a tremendous move by the Biden administration making us whole in the territory.” 

The Governor also discussed with other Governors about issues important to the Islands. 

“The EU blacklisting the Virgin Islands blacklisting the V.I. because of how our tax benefits are organized,” added Bryan. “Puerto Rico is off that so we were able to sit with the govenor of Puerto Rico and ask how did you get it done? Guam has the same problem with immigration, they need more workers. We got billions and billions of dollars to spend and a three percent unemployment rate so putting together our ideas, what can we do to work collaboratively with around our supporters in Washington DC as well as our lobbyists as well as our attorneys. Its important nowadays not only with the votes but with the money as well.” 

He also met with Cabinet Secretaries.  

“Sitting down with the Secretary of Energy is crucial when you can explain the water and power problems and how the energy is being distributed,” said Bryan. “I had a long conversation with Secretary [Pete] Buttigieg on transportation and all of the things that he’s rolling out and thanking him for some of the projects that he has already commissioned in the Virgin Islands.” 

Bryan said one of the biggest successes from this trip was a critical meeting with the State Department.  

“Working on doing a trade show in the Virgin Islands just for the Caribbean,” said Bryan. “How can you do business in the United States in the Virgin Islands so it’s a whole other opportunity for us to collaborate in the Caribbean and we got that permission from State so we’re feeling really positive about that.” 

He hopes the trade show can happen as early as next year.  

“We want to have conversations about energy, agriculture, climate change, trade; how do we get those things done in the Caribbean for each other and create our own symbiotic economic environment within the Caribbean,” added Bryan.