Dutch, French academics meet for think-thank entrepreneurship session

–On Saturday, November 8, 2014, Unified St. Maarten Connection USC Foundation, situated in the Netherlands, participated in a think-tank session under the theme “Entrepreneurship,” hosted by French St. Martin-focused organization, Pelicarus in Paris, France.
The event was meant to serve as the first step towards bringing young people from the island who live abroad closer together, while celebrating St. Maarten/St. Martin’s Day. The think-tank focused on five main questions, all centered on improving the level of cooperation between the Dutch and French Sides of the island. The near-30 attendees, including three representatives from S4, were split into five teams, each addressing one of the five questions. They were given two hours to brainstorm a “business solution” to their selected problem.
“Our question was ‘how do we develop and diversify our tourism product,” said Melissa Gumbs, Chairwoman of USC. She was placed in a team with Junisa Gumbs, Chantal Hyman and Keycie Berthelot, all representing Pelicarus. “The full results of what all teams discussed and discovered will be shared with the French Collectivite, as well as with Dutch St. Maarten’s Foreign Affairs Department, but I can say right now that we all came to the same conclusions: both sides must improve the lines of communication between their respective governments and private sectors.”
Gumbs’ team reflected that this was particularly significant with regards to tourism. Their presentation focused on solving the problem by developing an operations policy plan that outlines how both sides will exist within one single representative unit, operating with offices in key locations and conducting joint marketing campaigns for the island.
“We have a symbiotic economic relationship,” she continued, “wherein one side will always be affected by the successes and failures of the other. USC and Pelicarus look at this weekend as the baby steps that will eventually lead to significant and overwhelming strides towards changing how we work together as two countries sharing one land mass.”
While Gumbs could not share more until the official results are released by Pelicarus, she concluded by saying that the weekend was enlightening and inspiring for all who attended. Other topics addressed included how arts and sports could contribute to the island’s growth, how to preserve its culture and how to increase regional economic cooperation.