WASHINGTON -- The U.S. territories of the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands will be the focus of an Investment Development Conference, set for Sept. 8 and 9 here.

U.S. Interior secretary Gale Norton will host the conference.

The conference plan emerged from Norton's visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands in April. She noted then during a press conference that the local economy had been hurt by the drop-off in tourism since Sept. 11, and it would be a idea to create a forum to bring together investors and businesses.

The Investment Development Conference, Norton said, "will showcase the opportunities that the territories offer investors."

Participants will include David A. Sampson, assistant secretary of Commerce for Economic Development; the territories' governors; Congress members; Jose Fourquet, executive director of the Inter-American Development Bank; John A. Emens, U.S. Export-Import bank vice president for trade finances; and officials from the Asian Development Bank.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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