Editorial: Diversification

POSTED: 08/14/14 11:42 PM

More often than we’d like to hear, people casually throw out words like diversification or diversifying the local economy. Their point is that there is a need to ease St. Maarten’s heavy dependence on tourism as its main supply of income. But that’s always easier said than done, and most people don’t really think through what they’re saying.

The idea for a call center on what is now the Vorst property is not new. About a year ago, long time timeshare owner Jeff Berger in his weekly newsletter suggested setting up something similar, taking some of the business away from India.

Here’s the problem. India has vast supplies of cheap, skilled labor compared to St. Maarten. Call centers relocated there because they found a labor pool that was both educated and willing to be paid at a fraction of their Western counterparts. Skilled labor on St. Maarten is not cheap.

We need to look at what our natural strengths are and use them, not simply recycle generic, one size fits all models. We have a maritime industry that can develop specialized labor like few other places in the world. Start there.

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