Commonwealth, federal officials to hold economic development dialogue in DC
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, along with the Deputy U.S. Secretary of Commerce Don Graves, announced on Thursday that an “Economic Dialogue” to outline public policy strategies shared between the federal and commonwealth governments that have a direct impact on the island will soon take place in Washington, D.C.
During the announcement, at which the deputy director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs for Puerto Rico and the Territories, Gretchen Sierra Zorita, was also present, Pierluisi said that with the Economic Dialogue “we will be working together so that Puerto Rico reaches its highest potential in terms of its economic development strategies.”
Graves, who will serve as coordinator for the economic development of Puerto Rico, commented that the recovery of the island is a priority for President Joe Biden, and thanked Pierluisi “for his collaboration and commitment.”
“... [A]s the president himself told me just two days ago: ‘Puerto Rico is a top priority for me, so I want to know exactly what you see, what you hear, what the governor and his cabinet need, and everything the people of Puerto Rico need,’” Graves said. “That’s why we’re excited to announce today that the federal government is working with the state government to host this Economic Dialogue [... which] will help the federal government, as well as the state government, to outline shared public policy priorities that will benefit all Puerto Ricans even more with the unprecedented disbursement of federal funds.”
The governor added that the initiative, which will happen soon, includes federal and local cabinet officials, as well as personnel to guarantee that the work leads to tangible results for both Puerto Rico and the nation.
“This is our local government working together with the federal government for the benefit of our citizens,” Pierluisi said.
Prior to the press conference, Pierluisi met with Graves, Sierra Zorita, island Secretary of State Omar Marrero Díaz, Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration Director Carmen Feliciano, as well as other island government officials and heads of several commonwealth agencies.
“This is a follow-up visit to continue this direct coordination in which we identify areas of need and opportunity, as well as the actions that we are going to take together to strengthen our strategies,” the governor said. “Between today and tomorrow we will have meetings at all levels of our government, as well as with private companies and the nongovernmental sector.”
Pierluisi said the joint efforts include officials from 17 federal agencies focused on four direct care pillars, including investment in human capital, workforce development, energy access and resilience, and economic diversification, as well as better governance and access to data.