• The Star Staff

Resident commissioner and White House delegation continue visits to pharmaceutical and aerospace

By The Star Staff

During a tour showing the diversity of companies established in Puerto Rico’s northern region, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón on Tuesday emphasized to a visiting White House delegation the island’s infrastructure and capacity for hosting multinational manufacturing operations.

The resident commissioner toured manufacturing plants accompanied by Rear Adm. Peter Brown, the assistant to the president for Puerto Rico disaster recovery affairs; Juan Caro, a White House public policy adviser; island Economic Development and Trade Secretary Manuel Laboy; Puerto Rico Industrial Association President Carlos Rodríguez; and staff from the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Manatí Mayor José Sánchez accompanied the delegation on their visit to GK Pharmaceutical.

“It fills me with pride to be able to present to the White House the only pharmaceutical company in the world owned by women who are Puerto Rican, and established in Manatí, GK Pharmaceutical,” the resident commissioner said. “This company is an example of our ingenuity and capacity.”

GK Pharmaceutical, a biopharmaceutical manufacturer, developed a package of molecular tests to detect COVID-19 that already have a PRE-USA (Pre-Emergency Use Authorization) pre-approval, with final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expected by the end of this week. These would be the only polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests developed and manufactured on the island.

The delegation also visited Honeywell and Lufthansa to demonstrate the island’s aerospace industry.

Honeywell’s Research and Technology Center in Moca, built five years ago, is a young company focused on innovation. The center works with universities on the island to prepare the workforce, sponsor programs and competitions, promote aerospace education, and offer internees, who are maintained at a rate of 70 percent.

Honeywell has 870 employees between its facilities in Moca and Aguadilla. From these facilities, applications are developed that NASA uses in its satellite missions.

Lufthansa Technik in Aguadilla, the company’s only U.S. facility, focuses on aircraft maintenance. Since its opening in 2015 the facility so far has worked on 530 aircraft for nine airlines.

One of the reasons why the company with a German parent chose Puerto Rico was because of its privileged geographical location. The establishment of the company contributes to González Colón’s initiative to turn the island into an air cargo center by providing maintenance services. Lufthansa Technik has 330 employees, 95 percent of whom are from the island.

In 2017 the company established the first mechanics’ apprenticeship program with the Puerto Rico Aeronautical and Aerospace Institute. It is the first federally approved program of its kind in the entire nation.

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