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Published On: Sun, Oct 21st, 2018

Chamber of Commerce presents its development plans

Chamber of Commerce presents plans to Minister TEATT 16102018

~ COIC presents its development plans & improved service goals to Johnson ~

PHILIPSBURG — The St. Maarten Chamber of Industry and Commerce (COIC) held its first official meeting with the Minister responsible for Economic Affairs, the honourable Stuart Johnson on Tuesday October 16th, during which its members presented their plans for the development of their new Economic Service Centre, ESC in the area of the former Air Lekkerbek Restaurant, on the Walter Nisbeth Road.

Plans for the ESC are being finalized, and according to the COIC members, the intention is to break ground for the commencement of construction by the end of 2018.

The COIC members indicated that once completed, the ESC will be an eco-friendly and State of the Art, facility with18 units earmarked as “lease to own” properties intended for small business owners to lease or purchase outright to expand their business and increase their customer reach. The facility will also have over 97 parking lots with a full-service office from which the COIC will be able to provide improved customer services to its members.

COCI was represented at the meeting held at the Government Administration Building, by Executive Director Anastacio Baker, Board President Stanley Lint, Vice President Benjamin Ortega, Board member Mrs Pamela A. Illis-Friday. The COIC is an advocacy organization and provides a link between the government and its members and is a source of advice to government on economic developments. It was against this backdrop that COIC President Lint also made use of the opportunity to start the process of re-establishing a close working relationship with government, which he explained was for fragmented for some time.

Minister Johnson said he had every intention of ensuring that his ministry did its part to ensure that the Chamber of Commerce and Industry remains a crucial partner in the redevelopment of St. Maarten.

The COIC has also proposed the establishment of a Think Tank from within the business community to brainstorm on ways and means for economic revitalization and implored Minister Johnson, through his Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication (TEATT), to ensure the COIC remains part of the economic recovery plan.

Minister Johnson spoke to the members about his economic development plans for the island and asked whether consideration was already given by the Chamber on engaging its members in activities aimed at redeveloping Philipsburg. Johnson said putting life back into Philipsburg is a significant part of the economic recovery initiatives his ministry is undertaking during the recovery phase.

According to Johnson, “Economic recovery, in general, requires a collective approach to creating solutions to fill the economic void that presently exists and to stimulate activity in Philipsburg.” He said, “It cannot be business as usual, and the government simply cannot do it on its own.” He said, “It would take the full cooperation of all businesses and organizations to achieve the level of economic activity the island so desperately needs.”

Johnson said he was also encouraged by the Chamber’s report on their strategic plans to improve the way business is done on St. Maarten. Johnson said, “The development of new business and redevelopment of businesses that suffered a significant loss when hurricane Irma and Maria struck the island, is the most critical aspect of our economic revitalization plan and the sustainable economic future of St. Maarten.”

He said it is especially commendable that the COIC had reached out to other associations on the island as well as in Curacao and Aruba, that represent business interests to find ways of connecting their members with the right resource and information needed to enhance their product and service levels.

The Chamber President spoke briefly of the COIC’s strategic plan dubbed S.P. (Strategic Plan) 2020, which he said has as one of its primary objectives, ensuring that the COIC regains its relevance through improving processes, services, and providing follow-up on action items, rather than leaving great ideas on paper and never acting on them.

Johnson said the Chamber’s role in the redevelopment of St. Maarten post-Irma “is indeed critical” and commended the young President and Board members on their initiatives to ensure that the COIC remains relevant and remains part of the discussion on the economic future of St. Maarten.  He explained that because the Chamber is, by design, required to provide the service of navigating government complexities for its members and because it acts as the leading voice in raising its members’ concerns, “we as a government are very interested in hearing what the Chamber has to say.  He said the Chamber has to continue to be seen as an extension of the business community and as such their words when echoed should be, and should be viewed as being the concerns of the business community.”

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In the photo from the left, St. Maarten Chamber of Industry and Commerce (COIC) Executive Director Anastacio Baker, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication (TEATT) the honourable Stuart Johnson, COIC President Stanley Lint pointing to the artist impression of the new COIC Economic Service Centre, while COIC Board Member, Mrs Pamela A. Illis-Friday and Vice President Benjamin Ortega look on.



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