Representative of the Seventh District Dr Natalio Wheatley has said he believes the unemployment rate within his constituency is the highest in comparison to the other districts in the British Virgin Islands.
Dr Wheatley made the statement during a community meeting on Thursday when he addressed a number of the growing concerns that have been plaguing his district.
He said: “We have suffered, I would say, from a lack of investment over the years. And as a result of that, we have a big problem with unemployment in our district. Our district needs more investment.”
“Out of all the districts in the Virgin Islands, I think the Seventh District is the one district most in need of jobs, and we are going to bring those jobs here,” he added.
Commercial spaces coming to Brandywine Bay
To help tackle the unemployment issue, Dr Wheatley said the government has been putting a number of measures in place to create more jobs within the community.
The most recent includes plans to create commercial spaces at Brandywine Bay to generate more revenue for the community.
“I have discussed with the community a project and the community, of course, have bought into this project of having commercial spaces on Brandywine Bay beach. So very shortly we are going to sign a contract for the commercial spaces on Brandywine Bay beach to be designed,” Dr Wheatley said.
He added: “We will build commercial properties on Brandywine Bay beach which we will lease to persons and certainly persons from the Brandywine community will have preference. We will rent spaces to persons right along the beach, and this Brandywine Bay will be an area that will draw persons away from places like Cane Garden Bay.”
The district representative said that once the commercial spaces have been established, a number of small business owners will be able to benefit from tourism activity.
“[I am] talking about persons who want to have their kayak businesses on the beach, persons who want to have their smoothie stands, persons who want to rent their beach chairs, persons who want to have restaurants on the beach,” he explained.
Dr Wheatley, who is also the territory’s Agriculture Minister, further listed some of the other initiatives he believes will create more jobs within his district.
These include the $2 million economic stimuli for fishermen and farmers, the medical marijuana initiative which is expected to employ farmers and establish dispensaries across the district, a number of clean-up initiatives, and the establishing of a modern fishers and farmers market.
Unemployment register programme
Meanwhile, Dr Wheatley said a resident within his community has created a programme which is geared at recording the number of unemployed persons within the Seventh District.
By having this system in place, the minister said it will allow for better management of the unemployed, therefore assisting with the reduction of the current high levels.
“I have gotten one of the persons from the East, Mr Philip Fahie of Nature’s Way. He has developed some technology that will allow us to register the unemployed person within our district, and this registry will allow persons to register for different programmes that we are going to have in the community,” Dr Wheatley explained.