PHILIPSBURG–A total of 849 new businesses, 259 sole proprietorships and 461 limited liability companies were registered by St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce (COCI) and Industry in 2016. On the downside, 111 mostly sole proprietorships closed their doors.
COCI President Peggy-Ann Brandon said in a press statement: “The majority in business closures can be found in the sole proprietorship category. The main reason for closure is financial difficulty.”
A total of 732 businesses were registered in 2015, along with 212 sole proprietorships and 350 limited liability companies.
“Based on the statistics, we may conclude that confidence in our market potential has remained steady. An increase in new business registrations with a decrease in business closures translates into the conclusion of an exponential growth in 2016,” Brandon said.
COCI has noted that there is a need for facilities through which entrepreneurs are educated on fiscal obligations/compliance, on maintenance of consistent business administration, on marketing tools and business development possibilities. COCI will offer such business support tools to the business community of St. Maarten as of 2017.
This past year had “the characteristics of a leap year,” said Brandon. “A year marked by great losses, controversy and political instability and yet through it all many in our community pushed forward with tenacious positivity and belief in this country and our potential.
“In the absence of a stable and supportive Government, the country moved forward or backward dependent on personal perceptions, at a very slow, almost invisible, pace. This pattern, however, is not sustainable and if continued will not only halt our progress, but reverse much of what we have achieved.”
COCI has, throughout 2016, overcome its own challenges, worked with consistency on the improvement of its data registry system, human resources and the further development of its services launched in 2015.
COCI reached out to other Governmental bodies in 2016 in an effort to synchronise processes and procedures so that the overall business incorporation/start-up process could be shortened.
“Investors are often discouraged by long and cumbersome processes and seek environments that meet World Bank standards of business incorporations within one day. Initiatives were also undertaken by COCI to understand and synchronise the needs of the business sector with the available human resources in the labour market in an effort to establish courses and training programmes as sectors may dictate.
“COCI further in its undertakings strived towards a more secure business environment and sought collaborations to enhance compliance by the business sector in St. Maarten. These initiatives, be it due to a lack of understanding, are not yet embraced by our Government and have hampered the implementation of business ratings in St. Maarten thus far.
“COCI in 2016 continued to partner with law enforcement to enhance safety and security in St. Maarten and organised programmes in this regard. COCI will, in the coming years, with increased focus on this subject matter, make proposals and launch initiatives for a continuous enhancement of security within St. Maarten,” Brandon said.
On the front of business development, COCI throughout 2016 encouraged and supported small business entrepreneurs in their effort to establish businesses and maintain businesses in St. Maarten. Concerns raised by the large business sector were heard and after thorough research initiatives were developed for launching in 2017 and beyond.