By CAW Editorial Staff
On October 27, Mayor Eric Adams participated in the flag-raising ceremony of Saint Vincent and Grenadines in celebration of its 43rd Independence Anniversary. For the community, it was a historical moment, as it was the first time a mayor would participate in the memorable ceremony, which has existed since 1996.
In his remark, the mayor acknowledged and appreciated the importance and contribution of immigrants in New York City. “This is a city of not only people who have generations but a city of those who come here from various islands to make New York City their home. And when we raise the flag here at Bowling Green, the cornerstone of our financial strength and power, we are saying to you that we respect and see you. You are contributors to this fantastic city we call New York, “he said.
The mayor recalled immigrants’ vital role in keeping the city moving during COVID. In his words, “Immigrants don’t need New York. New York needs the immigrant communities of this city. And no one personifies that more than St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
He applauded the community’s resilience, warmness, spirit of engagement, and contribution to the borough of Brooklyn. “I am proud to raise your flag here at Bowling Green for the first time. It is a day of remembrance and a day of acknowledgment, and it’s a day of lifting the spirit of our city. New York City is back, and we’re back because of you,” said Mayor Eric Adams.
We followed up after the event with the Consul General, Honorable Ronny McIntosh, and the Investment and Trade Promotions Officer of the Consulate of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ms. Bernadette Ambrose-Black. We explored opportunities in the islands and the procedures for accessing them by the nationals and prospective investors. We also talked about community programs.
Listen to an interview with Rondy McIntosh – Consul General of St. Vincent and Grenadines, New York below:
Reviewing the 43rd Independence Anniversary Celebration
The Consul General recalled the ceremony, especially the celebration commemorated by the first flag raising at Bowling Green and the lighting of the iconic Empire State Building.
“It was a grand time; our spirits were lifted. And to come out of all and emerge, you know, as a resilient people, we thought it best to do something significant to lift our people’s spirits and tell the world that we are here. We have our own identity,” says Honorable McIntosh.
While addressing the different expectations of nationals, diaspora living in the Tri-state, and New Yorkers, the Consul General mentioned that his role is bringing the community’s people together, irrespective of their location in the United States, by creating a community and providing support.
“And the mission is to unite our people, regardless of where they live. As one big community, we maintain our “Vincyness,” culture, identity and share ideas. For our homeland and people back home with our remittances and the support in times when they really need that help. At the consulate to help and assist with the camaraderie and that whole community spirit that we know best from the Caribbean.”
The consul general explained that beyond providing the core functions of replacing passports and other forms of documentation – birth, marriage, or death certificates. The consulate also helps persons with other immigration challenges like repatriation or deportation. “Any issue that Vincennes may encounter here in the US, they can reach out to us, and if we can’t help at the consulate, we can guide you on where to find that help.”
He explained that they operate on a hybrid between 9am-4 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for a walk-in or appointment. “You can call us at the consulate, and we are ready to accommodate you because we try to answer every single call on the office line 212-687-4490. And in cases whereby we can’t take your call, we will return the call to our constituents.” You can also reach the consulate can via Facebook.
Consul General Hon. Rondy McIntosh speaking at the flag-raising ceremony at Bowling Green, NY, NY.
Photo Courtesy: Joanne Legaire
Traveling Protocols and Business Opportunities in St Vincent and the Grenadines
Speaking with the officer in charge of investments and trade promotions Ms. Ambrose-Black, she explained that the COVID protocols are lifted, and the islands are open for business. “Like other countries in the Caribbean, we have lifted the protocol for persons entering Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. “We are always open for business and tourists,” she explained.
Due to St Vincent & the Grenadines being an archipelago of islands, several opportunities exist, including foreign direct and diaspora investments. “We welcome the investment from persons living on the island and nationals living within the diaspora. Investments and opportunities exist in all the economic niche sectors like agriculture, tourism, education, health, ICT, and financial services.”
Cannabis and Saint Vincent
In agriculture, the Investment and Trade Promotions Officer acknowledged the ongoing debate over the potency of cannabis species from the island, alluding to the soil type. “We have the volcanic soil, and cannabis is a new industry to us.”
Thus, the country is working in the industry, striving to become a leader in exporting cannabis for medical purposes. “We have revolutionized that industry. There is a cannabis office and a cannabis authority. And we are exporting medical cannabis, and we are the first.”
According to Ms. Ambrose-Black, the agricultural industry is viable. There are several plants they export, including cannabis, which she claims research shows has health benefits for the users. “One of the benefits is that it is good for pain management in cancer patients. They also use them as well for sleep therapy.”
Beyond cannabis, the country also has other agricultural products with health benefits, such as soursop, moringa products, and herbal teas for export.
Ambassador Lou-Anne Gilchrist, Permanent Representative to the OAS and Ambassador to the United States for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with Mayor Eric Adams and Consul General Hon Rondy McIntosh receiving a proclamation making October 27, 2022, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Heritage Day. In the background, Investment & Promotion Officer, Ms. Bernadette Ambrose-Black.
Photo Courtesy: Joanne Legaire.
Investing in Industries and Incentives from St Vincent and the Grenadines
There are several incentives for potential investors in the country’s economy, albeit it depends on factors such as the nature and size of the investment. “There are incentives embedded in the law. Like the Fiscal Incentive Act, which deals with manufacturing, and the hotels IT Act, which deals with tourism, building hotels, rooms, and stock,” buttressed Ms. Ambroise-Black.
Furthermore, most incentives are based on the discretion of the cabinet. “Therefore, it depends on the nature of the investment, size, and the nature,” she explained.
Prospective investors can contact her through the consulate, which has expanded jurisdiction in recent years to accommodate trade and investment promotions within North America and Canada. The consulate number is 212-687-4490.
Investing in St Vincent and the Grenadines appears seamless because of the structures, guides, and resources like the website available for prospective investors. “So once things are submitted to me, it’s transmitted to the investment promotion agency, and there is an import-export guide that would aid in that. And there’s our Doing an online business platform that lists all the incentives as well as the opportunities for investment within St Vincent and the Grenadines,” says Ms. Ambroise-Black.
Upcoming Special Programs
As part of the effort to reach community members, the consulate of St Vincent and the Grenadines will set up a satellite passport office at Friends of Crown Heights in Brooklyn. This will be launched during a community event.
According to the Consul General, they realized that many people were busy. Many works during the weekend and cannot make time to visit the consulate, so they bring the consulate closer to the people.
“So, we’re bringing the consulate to our constituents. And at that event, we intend to have a health fair and insurance fair. Where someone can speak to our people about funding and scholarships, so it’s for the Caribbean and black people. It’s going to be a combination of many things happening on Saturday, December 3,” says Consul General Mr. McIntosh.
He reaffirmed their willingness to share information and serve the Caribbean and CARICOM community. “And we are always happy to share information with the diaspora. As a Caribbean and CARICOM community, “he explained, “We can exist in the great United States of America and maintain our values and disciplines. We must ensure that the next generation of children born here in the United States also recognizes our home country as their own.”