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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

At business summit, governor lauds local-federal cooperation



Last year, the island’s Economic Activity Index grew 3.3%, the largest increase in five years, said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, at center, adding that federal and state funds have been strategically invested to effectively promote economic development in important areas such as manufacturing, tourism and the technology sector.

By The Star Staff


Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia participated on Monday in an event hosted by the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym) at the Pedro Rosselló González Convention Center called “ELEVATE Summit: Business Growth Opportunities/Local and Federal Contracting.”


“The past three years have brought us recovery, revitalization and economic growth like we haven’t seen in decades,” the governor said in a written statement. “That is Puerto Rico’s new identity. Our economy has grown consistently during this four-year period and we have a positive projection for the next 10 years.”


Pierluisi met with United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Don Graves, who has shown his support for the PRopósito strategic framework and the economic dialogue between the federal and commonwealth governments.


Pierluisi said that in 2011, when he was resident commissioner, the DDEC created the Federal Contracting Center, and since then it engages in collaboration so that federal agencies, particularly the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), promote opportunities for local companies to do business with the federal government.


“It is an important market for Puerto Rico, especially because we are an American jurisdiction that can serve the federal government with great cost-effectiveness and expertise,” the governor said. “That represents a huge impact on our economy and continues to be a focus of opportunity for our people. Puerto Rico is now a destination for growth and progress and we are going to encourage our taking advantage of all the opportunities available.”


Last year, the island’s Economic Activity Index grew 3.3%, the largest increase in five years. The governor noted that federal and state funds have been strategically invested to promote economic development, registering records in important areas such as manufacturing, tourism and the technology sector. In fact, he said, manufacturing’s matching indexes are reflecting the highest numbers since 2009, and for 33 consecutive months the sector has seen record growth.


“Without a doubt, the greatest attraction we have is the capacity of our human capital. That is why today we have 124,000 additional jobs and the largest workforce in 16 years, when [in 2008] there were 500,000 more people in Puerto Rico,” Pierluisi said. “In addition, unemployment is at 5.75, the lowest rate in our history. These are indisputable figures and we know that these successes promote more successes. To that end, the government, and in collaboration with the federal government, is promoting important initiatives that support our companies and entrepreneurs, particularly small and midsize businesses [SMEs] in Puerto Rico, which are the backbone of our economy. Our SMEs have been able to benefit from aid, loans at low interest rates and disaster incentives.”


The SBA, through a $109 million investment from the federal Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative Program, supported the capitalization of the Economic Development Bank to promote the development of new small businesses and the expansion of existing businesses, impacting more than 3,000 SMEs in Puerto Rico. Another major program is the Small Business Financing Program, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s federal disaster grant program, Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery, or CDBG-DR.


“These funds were allocated to assist our SMEs in the purchase of equipment, for operating and hiring expenses, and employee retention,” Pierluisi said. “So far, $125 million in grants has been awarded, impacting nearly 2,800 small businesses in Puerto Rico.”

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