• The Star Staff

Resident commissioner, US senator legislate for island to become hub for pharmaceuticals, medical eq

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico could become a hub or a national manufacturing center of pharmaceutical products and medical equipment if legislation to that effect drafted by island Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) becomes a reality.

The initiative seeks to have companies that produce medical and pharmaceutical equipment currently in foreign countries to relocate their operations to U.S. soil.

“The fact that these manufacturers that produce essential health materials for the American market are not within our reach, especially in times of crisis, represents a threat to the national medical supply chain,” González Colón said in a statement Thursday. “With this legislation we seek to correct this situation, offering federal incentives to these companies in exchange for job creation and capital investment, so that they relocate to American soil, specifically in places with levels of poverty designated as ‘Distressed Zones.’”

Moving large companies to places with high levels of poverty translates into a large investment in the area that, eventually, would help to transition them into economically stronger areas, generating a chain effect of proliferation of small businesses around the zone and offering well paying jobs, the resident commissioner said.

“Puerto Rico has the capacity, labor, experience, and infrastructure to become a national hub for the production of medical equipment and medicines, attracting manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies located abroad. Thus, we secure the national supply chain and boost our economy with well paying jobs,” González Colón said. “This is the proposal that I am promoting along with Senator Marco Rubio and for which I have also brought Rear Admiral Peter Brown and a delegation from the White House to visit various plants in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Rubio added that “[t]he coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that we must rebuild our national manufacturing capacity, especially in our medical industry.”

“For too long, our manufacturing capabilities have moved to China, impacting communities across our country, including Puerto Rico, which was once home to a strong manufacturing industry in the United States,” he said. “I am proud to join Congresswoman González Colón in this vital effort to rebuild our manufacturing capacity, especially in the economically marginalized areas that were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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