WASHINGTON – St. Lucia is looking to deepen its economic development links with public and private sector players in the Washington DC area.
Passing through the US capital last week en route to St. Lucia from Taiwan, Prime Minister Hon. Stephenson King met with Washington DC Councilmember At-Large Kwame Brown at the Headquarters of Black Entertainment Television (BET) before traveling to Maryland to discuss investment opportunities with African American entrepreneur and BET founder Robert Johnson, now CEO of RLJ Development – one of the fastest growing hotel investment companies in the United States – and Chairman of the RLJ Companies.
The meetings were arranged by BET executive Paxton Baker, who has been doing business with St. Lucia for the past 17 years.
Prime Minister King thanked Baker and BET for their long association and support of the famous St. Lucia Jazz festival, which along with the Pitons twin-peaks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has placed St. Lucia on the international map.
“We have been able to showcase the country … as a result of the jazz festival,” said Prime Minister King who recognised the festival had transformed a slow tourism month into a buoyant period of activity for the tourism industry, as well as allowing locals the opportunity to celebrate an historic art form and, for some of them, to sharpen their event production skills. “The long term returns are enormous and cannot be quantified,” said Prime Minister King who pledged his commitment to continue integrating tourism with the cultural industries of St. Lucia.
Prime Minister Stephenson King (right) listens attentively to Robert Johnson of the RLJ Companies.
Councilmember At-Large Kwame Brown, who is Chairperson of the Committee on Economic Development, said the opportunity to link DC area businesses with St. Lucia and vice versa was natural and synergistic. “I think it is a win-win situation,” said Brown, who was personally impressed with the Prime Minister’s commitment to working with Washingtonians as well as American businesses across several US cities.
Participants at the meetings endorsed the fact that there was tremendous value in St. Lucia’s top government leader connecting with local government representative Kwame Brown who presides over major economic development issues affecting the District in the Council of the District of Columbia. It was felt that these links to local government will help bring to fruition projects aimed at sustaining economic development, promoting trade and enriching communities in both countries.