Real estate professional and television host Sean Conlon submitted his application for tax benefits to the Economic Development Commission on Tuesday.
Conlon immigrated to the United States from Ireland around 30 years ago and appeared at Tuesday’s meeting from London via video conference.
His company, Conlon and Co. USVI LLLP, is applying for tax incentives through the EDC, which provides qualifying businesses with up to 90% corporate and personal income tax reductions, and up to 100% exemption on gross receipts, commercial goods and excise. tax payments.
Lawyer Marjorie Roberts explained that the company intends to engage in a variety of financial services, including business advisory and management, investment banking and family office services. The company will make a minimum capital investment of $100,000 and will commit to hiring seven full-time employees during the first two years of operation.
The company will also provide 100% health insurance premiums for employees and their dependents, a minimum of $30,000 life insurance, a pension plan with at least 2% annual employer contribution , as well as 20 days of paid leave and 12 paid public holidays. annually.
The request includes a commitment of $30,000 in charitable contributions, which will increase by $5,000 each year and will be capped at $50,000, of which at least 50% will go to education. The company will also contribute $10,000 to the territorial scholarship fund and make an annual contribution of $2,500 to the Department of Labor fund.
Conlon said that, like many of his generation, he went to America “to strike it rich” and earned his real estate license while working as a janitor for three years.
His study of zoning law changes in Chicago helped him become the top realtor in North America at the age of 26, “which changed my life and changed the life of my family. in Ireland”, and led him to start a high-tech real estate company. and merchant banking, and buying and selling several other businesses.
“I have a little thing I do on TV, but I’m more proud of my investment banking,” Conlon said.
That “little thing” is a CNBC show, “The Deed: Chicago,” in which Conlon used his experience to help struggling investors.
Conlon said a friend mentioned places where Americans can easily move businesses and was considering Puerto Rico.
“I actually wanted an island with some personality,” and went to St. Croix for the weekend, Conlon said. “I fell in love with the place and I fell in love with a house, so I bought a beautiful old sugar mill in Sainte-Croix which has now been my home since the beginning of the year.”
The five-acre Clairmont Estate, formerly owned by textile designer Twila Wilson, made the cover of Architectural Digest in 1997. The article noted that “Clairmont Estate, through slave labor, thrived as a sugar cane plantation in the early 1700s – until ailing serfs took the liberty of burning down the plantation house.
A February 2021 New York Times article about the property did not mention the enslaved workers who lived and died on the plantation, nor the laborers who eventually rioted in the Fireburn protest of 1878. But the article described the lavish, $2.95 million five-bedroom property, which was built in and around the historic sugar mill, “with a two-story guest house and stone ruins dating back to its heyday candy”.
Conlon said he was delighted to welcome EDC board members to the house for cocktails and planned to arrange visits for media eager to take a look at the interior.
He sold 5,000 houses as a broker and had developed a set of rules for real estate, but when it came to Estate Clairmont, “I did everything I wasn’t supposed to do, I walked in and I fell in love with it” and ended up in a bidding war, Conlon said. “It’s so beautiful, I’m so proud of it.”
Also, “I just married a young girl recently and her father runs the Historic Houses of Europe Society,” Conlon said.
Conlon recently married Imogen Hervey-Bathurst at his family estate, Eastnor Castle, and his new father-in-law, James Hervey-Bathurst, is a leader in the preservation of historic architecture.
He compared Christiansted town center to historic districts in Italy and said the architecture is an invaluable asset that must be preserved and protected.
“The majority of these historic buildings are still in probate, so it’s a challenge, it’s a major challenge,” said board chairman Kevin Rodriquez.
“I didn’t know that,” Conlon said, and noted that, like in Italy, there are often multiple family members fighting over property, leaving it to deteriorate in the meantime.
Conlon said he also had a wildlife foundation for 20 years and intended to make various charitable contributions to St. Croix.
“I expect my contribution to the community to be more than the expected base amount,” Conlon said. “I don’t go back and forth, it’s not my thing. I bet everything.”
“I don’t know if that’s your accent, but I love your enthusiasm,” Rodriquez said.
“I love life and honestly couldn’t be happier at St. Croix,” Conlon said.
Conlon said he wanted to hire Virgin Islanders locally and also attract those who left for the mainland.
As Ireland has always done, St. Croix suffers from a “brain drain” of talent leaving for better opportunities elsewhere, and Conlon said Ireland was able to reverse this trend by introducing a progressive tax structure.
“I would love to go find some of your best and brightest and bring them back to St. Croix,” Conlon said. “The more people like me start moving their businesses out there and bringing them back, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Board members will review the request and vote at a future meeting.