• The Star Staff

Executives analyze how to attract companies currently manufacturing in China

By John McPhaul


As part of Manufacturing Week activities on the island, a group of executives who are experts in the field of manufacturing locally and internationally analyzed on Thursday the challenges and opportunities ahead of Puerto Rico as it looks to position itself and compete for the relocation of companies and products currently being made in China.

Currently 1,730 manufacturing companies operate on the island that contribute over 48 percent of Puerto Rico’s adjusted gross income, creating 74,500 direct jobs and totaling 220,000 between direct, indirect and induced jobs.

Participating in the virtual panel were the island Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC), Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association (PRMA), economic planning and consulting firm Estudios Técnicos, Pharmaceutical Industrial Association (PIA), Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension (PRiMEX), Medical Devices Cluster and Certified Public Accountants Association.

DDEC Secretary Manuel Laboy Rivera said in a written statement that “despite the challenges faced by Puerto Rico, the manufacturers established on the island continue to rely on the specialized workforce produced by the universities in Puerto Rico, the commitment of our professionals and the investment tools that we offer in the Department of Economic Development and Commerce.”

As a result of teamwork between the government and the private sector, Puerto Rico has achieved the commitment of the United States government to strengthen and expand its manufacturing industry, he added.

“From 2017 until now, our team at [the Puerto Rico Industrial] Development Company has achieved an investment commitment of over $1.4 billion, and thousands of jobs created, as well as retained. Given this, Puerto Rico has the opportunity to strengthen this sector and position itself as the main manufacturing center in the Caribbean,” Laboy Rivera said. “We have more than 60 years of experience, a high-tech manufacturing ecosystem, a geographic location that plays an important role in terms of connectivity, logistics and supply chain, as well as knowledge and compliance with federal regulations, among other assets. Without a doubt, the future of manufacturing on Puerto Rican soil is promising. We thank PRiMEX for being a facilitating entity and guiding the various economic sectors in their search to support the continuation of their operations according to the times.”

PRiMEX Board Chairman Felipe Hernández, meanwhile, stressed that for more than 50 years the island has demonstrated the ability to manufacture high-quality products in a regulatory environment.

“We are currently an international manufacturing center for pharmaceutical products and medical devices that has continued to supply products to the market through hurricanes, earthquakes and a pandemic,” he said. “Our human resources from the production line to senior management are world-class. We must take the opportunity to review elements that we must improve to maintain and improve our competitiveness in such a way that we retain and grow the industry present on the island.”

PIA President Wendy Perry said that “[f]or PIA the development and advancement of Puerto Rican talent is one of our strategic pillars: promoting our global competitiveness by strengthening our ecosystem.”

“Puerto Rico leads [North America] with the highest concentration of experts in the pharmaceutical industry,” she said. “Here 12 of the top 20 most used pharmaceutical products throughout the world are manufactured. In Puerto Rico we generate 18,000 direct jobs and 60,000 indirect jobs, and have a highly educated and specialized workforce where 75 percent have a university degree. PIA has worked and collaborated with INDUNIV academy in the implementation of initiatives such as educational scholarships, internships, summer camps, rotations in the facilities, and workshops with graduates, among others. We have also supported the creation of high-demand baccalaureate programs and concentrations in our industry. Our specialized talent is the engine of our industry.”

The PRMA has participated throughout the years in the annual celebration of Manufacturing Week.

“We once again joined forces with PRIMEX, DDEC and other organizations to highlight the impact of manufacturing on the lives of all Puerto Ricans and on the economy of our island,” Hernández said. “Manufacturing has been, is and will be the main engine of economic development in Puerto Rico, representing more than 50 percent of the gross domestic product. We are very pleased to participate in this event where students and the general public are provided the opportunity to see firsthand the value of this important sector and to open their eyes to opportunities.”