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ISL marks successes in 2017, looks to new year

(PRESS RELEASE) – Invest Saint Lucia (ISL) recorded significant strides in 2017, in keeping with its mandate to advance the island’s socio-economic development through the facilitation of direct investment, due to close collaboration with potential investors, the public sector, and private sector players.

In 2017, ISL worked with a number of local and foreign investors from a wide cross-section of businesses, some of which moved from the concept stage to operations, generating employment and the resultant economic activity. Those investments include both greenfield investments and expansions of existing operations.

Ojo Labs, the Caribbean’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) contact center officially opened its doors in November 2017, employing close to 40 agents initially. It is anticipated that the company will employ approximately 300 agents, within the next three years. The company’s staff complement currently comprises mainly Saint Lucian youth. Ojo Labs is housed in the Hewanorra Freezone within one of ISL’s factory shells.

The Harbor Club officially opened its doors in December 2017. The hotel features 115 rooms with a variety of facilities including a spa, swimming pool, fitness centre, two restaurants, bakery and 4,000 square feet of event and meeting space.

The Royalton Saint Lucia Resort and Spa officially opened in February 2017, and features 453 rooms, eight restaurants, six bars, a world class spa, onsite splash park, conference space and an exclusive 94-suite, adults-only hotel within the resort called Hideaway. The resort was developed after the acquisition of the Smugglers Cove Resort and Spa by Blue Diamond Resorts. Total estimated employment now stands at 800.

The Hibiscus Trolley Train Tour commenced operations in early 2017 from Duty Free Pointe Seraphine. The tour around the Castries city circuit is mainly for the Cruiseship market and lasts approximately 90 minutes. The company currently employs five people.

Also in 2017, Digicel St. Lucia launched a new hub office in Saint Lucia as a part of its global transformation program. ISL sees this as the first of many companies that will choose Saint Lucia to establish headquarter operations due to favorable legislative changes.

Additionally, through its inventory of factory shells, ISL enabled the growth and expansion of three manufacturers, thereby meeting the growing demand for their products. Alwin Investment Inc., a Saint Lucian pasta manufacturer, was assisted in its expansion efforts through the sale of a 7000 square feet factory shell in Union. TA’s Distribution and Trading, a locally owned business, was supported through the renovation and lease of a 10,000 square feet factory shell in the Vieux Fort Industrial Estate. This larger facility enables TA’s Distribution to consolidate its services and increase its distribution of “Mags Refined Coconut Oil” using locally produced copra. Brice and Co’s acquisition of a 9,800 square feet factory shell located in the Vieux Fort Industrial Freezone, supports the expansion plans of this local company as it continues to contribute to the construction industry in Saint Lucia.

It is anticipated that several other investments will make significant progress this year, in 2018, following the receipt of requisite approvals and licenses. Desert Star Holdings began exploratory work for construction of a race course in Vieux Fort in 2017. Invest Saint Lucia continues to provide support to Desert Star Holdings and to liaise with various agencies to ensure all the necessary elements are in place for the advancement of the project. The GP Group’s 4-5 star, 120-room and 40-villa hotel development under the Fairmount Hotel & Resort brand is one such project that, in July of this year, broke ground on the Sab Wisha beach, paving the way for the construction of the resort which sits on approximately 15 acres of beachfront property. The GP Group has also committed to completing several projects in the Choiseul community. This project is approved under the Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP). During construction, which is expected to commence in 2018, an estimated 330 people will be employed and a further 580 on a permanent basis.

In 2018, Range Developments will deliver a Ritz Carlton hotel with 180 rooms on 40 acres (1st phase) of a 165-acre property. The hotel will include 4 dining options, a holistic spa and 5 meeting and function areas. Range Developments is responsible for the development of the recently opened Park Hyatt in St. Kitts and the Kempinski Resort in Dominica. According to the investors, at least 500 staff will be employed during the construction phase, scheduled to begin within the first quarter of 2018. An estimated 350 staff will be employed when the resort begins its official operations. ISL is in discussions with the Black Bay farmers on the relocation of their active farming interests on the site.

Chefs Choice, a locally owned manufacturing company will establish an automated pasta manufacturing facility at Vide Bouteille, Castries, this year. The company is expected to officially commence operations with about 25 employees in 2018.

Pure Vibe Entertainment with its new Ultra Lounge, will be a sound proofed, ultra-contemporary designed entertainment venue, offering a variety of specialty drinks and food. Ultra Lounge will be located on the Rodney Bay strip. An estimated 18 full-time and seven part-time staff are expected to be employed when the venue opens.

In future investments, the Apple Leisure Group (ALG) announced that it will be bringing two of its luxury, all-inclusive resort brands to Saint Lucia in 2020. Micoud is the proposed site for the Resort which will comprise residences, condominiums and two hotels managed and branded by AMResorts (ALG).

Invest Saint Lucia’s dedicated team of professionals continue to facilitate direct investment in line with the government’s vision. ISL expects that in 2018, many of the pipeline investments will advance towards implementation.

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