July 4, 2011
TO: All Concerned Citizens/Stakeholders that care about St. Croix
It was great news to read in last week’s Sunday Monday Avis (June 26-27) that the five (5) year moratorium that was placed against the issuance of Liquor licenses to all new applicants within the C’Sted and F’Sted Cities had ended and was going to be removed. This moratorium, which is less than a page long, was silently placed against any new license to all entities that did not have a restaurant (Nightclubs, bars, lounges, taverns etc).
Today, I had a conversation with the Commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, Wayne Biggs. I was informed that an amendment was added to the proposed law that would extend this very moratorium for another (5) years. My friends, concerned citizens of St. Croix, we cannot let the law pass with this amendment! We must do all we can to grow our private sector, which includes our cities. Entertainment is not only a vital part of our cities and creates much needed jobs, but a crucial ingredient to our hotel industry…
Over the period that this moratorium has been in place, we have seen the demise of these types of businesses and loss of jobs, taxes, and the spending of income from these types of businesses on St. Croix. In addition, this moratorium is directly negatively affecting the restaurant and hotel industries because it:
Forces potential entrepreneurs, who want to get into these types of businesses away to other islands/locations. All of us industry stakeholders know that it takes at least 400-2,000% more resources to open a restaurant compared to a lounge, bar, or nightclub; to include: initial capital investment, size of property, employees, (front end, back end) long-term capital etc.
Forces intended new entrepreneurs who want to get into the nightclub, bar, lounge or tavern industry into an already saturated restaurant industry, most of the time without the knowledge, desire, or ability to successfully open and maintain a restaurant. Eight (8) Restaurants have close in the past 2 months. Many others are ‘FOR SALE.’
Has eliminated all nightclubs in the C’sted area and most in F’sted
Created an environment with hardly any nightlife for Tourists and locals alike. Many Tourists, from surrounding islands and abroad, leave our island not wanting to come back because of this issue. I know first-hand that many tourists and regional visitors leave our island and pass this negative information on, to their families and friends.
Created an abandoned environment that does not attract potential investors.
Christiansted and Frederiksted are our cities and the lifeblood of our island. Both, over the past five (5) years have been negatively impacted because of this bill. Unlike St. Thomas, we do not have dozens of small malls (economic centers), that offers restaurants, bars, lounges, and other options for jobs and entertainment for visitors and local…we only have our cities. On this Independence Day, I implore you all to join in and let’s stop the ‘killing’ of our private sector, here on St. Croix. The high cost of WAPA, the smoking ban and now this, please let’s get together to start the process to ensure that this moratorium does not get extended.
Collin WS Hodge, Consultant/Member, C’sted, Rest & Retail Asso.
Partner, A Taste of St. Croix Inc.
Owner, Massive Mgmt & Productions Inc.