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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Executive order establishes council for aerospace investment policy

By John McPhaul

With the signing of Executive Order 2022-026 earlier this week, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia has created the Council for the Aerospace Industry of Puerto Rico, which will be chaired by Ports Authority Executive Director Joel Pizá Bátiz, with the purpose of studying and recommending an integrated plan for the research, development and investment of the aerospace and aeronautical industry in Puerto Rico.

“The creation of an Aerospace and Aeronautical Council will provide the necessary structure and coordination between government agencies to channel any questions that the private sector or any state or federal government entity may have, in relation to the establishment of commercial aerospace or aeronautical initiatives in Puerto Rico,” the governor said in a written statement late Monday.

The order, which takes effect immediately, is in keeping with the determination of the President Joe Biden, to reactivate the National Space Council to receive advice on public policy related to the industry.

To that end, last December the federal government published the document “United States Space Priorities Framework” in which the direct impact of the aerospace industry on job creation, national security and as an instrument to combat climate change was recognized.

“Puerto Rico has a privileged geographic location and maintains the necessary infrastructure for the development of the aerospace industry, as well as various incentive programs to attract this type of industry,” the governor said in the executive order. “In addition, it has specialized higher education programs such as the Institute of Aeronautics and Aerospace, attached to the University of Puerto Rico [UPR], Aguadilla campus, and our internationally recognized engineering graduates from the Mayagüez campus of the UPR. The quality of the Puerto Rican student body and the great capacity of our human capital has been evidenced not only in recent projects such as the launch of a satellite into space by students from Inter American University but also in the successes and labor integration of our professionals into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The foregoing creates the necessary conditions for the establishment, promotion and development of the aeronautical and space industry on the island.”

The process of insertion into the industry has begun on the island through the establishment of companies such as Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell Aerospace, Hamilton Sundstrand, AXON Group, Florida Turbine and ESSIG Research, with projects aimed at developing the aerospace industry. As a result, Pierluisi noted, in 2020 Puerto Rico exported some $107 million in aerospace products and parts.

Given this, the governor stressed that the potential of the industry “is incalculable and requires the establishment of a defined and attractive public policy, which identifies our strengths and areas of growth, which is integrated into urban planning and economic development efforts, and that it be nurtured by the investment and development opportunities that result from the policies of the federal government.”

The council will be made up of directors from the departments of Economic Development and Commerce, the National Guard, the Planning Board and UPR along with the heads of the Office of Management and Budget and the Federal Affairs Administration, and representatives of the Institute of Aeronautics and Aerospace, the Science-Technology and Research Trust of Puerto Rico, and four citizen experts on the subject, among others.

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