COCI: Positive Outlook for the Business Community in 2021
PHILIPSBURG – St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) Executive Director Jude Houston has expressed a great deal of confidence for the business sector of St. Maarten for the year, given the trend observed in the first quarter of 2021 as compared to the same period of 2020. He stated that based on the analysis conducted by COCI, there has a been a net business surplus within the sector for the first three months of the year, since there were more new business registrations or openings than business closures.
New business registrations amounted to 216 for the months January to March 2021, compared to 169 in the same period of 2020. This signifies an increase of 27.8 percent in new business registration. This he said is a positive sign, not just for the business community but the economy on a whole if this trend is to continue for the balance of the year. Mr. Houston equates this performance to the first quarter of 2018 (post Irma), where there was a huge increase new business registration. This sort of development is usually the case after a crisis, where generally business opportunities present themselves. Additionally, it speaks to the entrepreneurial culture of the people.
Analysis was conducted on the new businesses established during the reporting period indicated, that the most predominant of sectors were the retail sector with 36 new businesses, followed by the general service sector (administrative and consultancy services) with 25 new businesses, construction sector with 20 businesses, bars and restaurants 18, Beauty salons 13, and real estate and legal services with 12 businesses respectively. These were followed by the Automotive sector with 10 businesses, which covers all automotive activities from sales, leasing and rent, auto parts sale, and garage and auto cleaning activities. The last being foundations and transport sector with 8 and 9 businesses, respectively.
There were 78 business closures for the this first quarter compared to 36 for the same period of 2020. This analysis further cements the overall impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on certain sectors of the business community. The most predominant of sectors that experienced the most closures were, the general service (administrative and consultancy services) sector with 19 closed businesses, followed by retail sector with 10 closed businesses These were followed by the construction sector and Bars and restaurants with 8 closed businesses respectively, and general cleaning services with 5. Real estate, beauty salons and arts and entertainment had 4 closed businesses each.
Apart from the monitoring of the sector, COCI is happy to report that for this first quarter it has conducted seven webinars with an average participation of 140-persons, two community outreach sessions in the Simpson Bay and St. Peters community and four presentations to the students within the secondary institutions on the importance of entrepreneurship. These initiatives of COCI, are all geared towards business support, development and engagement that can lead to a more resilient business community. They were also conducted in collaboration with key institutions that have bearing on the business community.
Mr. Houston also stated that, for the balance of the year 2021 COCI will continue to monitor the business developments and provide its capacity building programs and initiatives. Additionally, focus will also be on the operational efficiency of COCI so that we can better serve and meet the needs of the public.
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