OPINION

Opinion: Why you should do business in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's newly sworn-in Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla delivers his inaugural speech during an outdoor ceremony at the Capitol building in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. Garcia is a 41-year-old attorney and former local senator who narrowly defeated pro-statehood Gov. Luis Fortuno was sworn in on a stage overlooking the Atlantic Ocean amid the cheers of thousands of supporters from his party, which opposes statehood.  (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Puerto Rico's newly sworn-in Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla delivers his inaugural speech during an outdoor ceremony at the Capitol building in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. Garcia is a 41-year-old attorney and former local senator who narrowly defeated pro-statehood Gov. Luis Fortuno was sworn in on a stage overlooking the Atlantic Ocean amid the cheers of thousands of supporters from his party, which opposes statehood. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Today Puerto Rico kicked off the Site Selectors Guild’s 2015 Annual Conference, bringing together the world’s most respected business location experts and economic development professionals. Guild members specialize in advising companies on selecting the best location for their business, considering both qualitative and quantitative advantages that would maximize their performance and goals. The fact that Puerto Rico is hosting the Guild’s fourth annual conference is no coincidence – the island is experiencing a period of economic renaissance that is just beginning.

This month, Dow AgroSciences announced the commencement of operations of a new multimillion dollar lab to research corn, soy, and sunflower. And companies like CooperVision and Lilly continue to invest more than $450 million in Puerto Rico.

- Antonio Medina

The García Padilla administration has driven the creation of new jobs in the private sector by attracting new capital investment from around the world and providing business incentives to local and foreign-owned businesses of all sizes. Thanks to the administration’s business-friendly policies, not only have the island’s historically strongest sectors – pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices – continued to stabilize and grow, but clusters of new industries such as aerospace are successfully developing, diversifying Puerto Rico’s economy. Just last year, Lufthansa Technik broke ground on a new maintenance, repair and overhaul facility on the island, which will have an estimated economic impact of $2.2 billion over a 30-year period and will employ up to 400 highly skilled employees. 

This is just one of the several high profile companies in the aviation and aerospace sector that have recognized Puerto Rico’s advantages. Industry leaders such as Honeywell Aerospace, Infosys, Lockheed-Martin, ESSIG Research, Florida Turbine, Axon and UTC Aerospace Services are investing in Puerto Rico.

Governor García Padilla embraces the fact that the world is transitioning to a knowledge-based economy. That is why his administration has placed a premium on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The Lufthansa Technik facility is not only promoting the growth of Puerto Rico’s aerospace and aviation industry, it is further helping stimulate STEM education with the brand new Aerospace and Aviation Institute of Puerto Rico (AAIPR) that is currently under construction to support the Lufthansa Technik facility and operations. 

Puerto Rico presents another tremendous advantage – its people. With 86 percent of our workforce enrolling in post-secondary education, our workforce is made up of highly educated, bilingual and quality conscious professionals who will guarantee Puerto Rico a seat at the global table. We have more than 40 academic institutions that provide graduate and post-graduate education, and an ecosystem that places an emphasis on research and development (R&D). Puerto Rico’s education system funds over a quarter of R&D projects on the Island. We have high rankings from the Global Competitiveness Index 2013 report for research and training services (ranked 10) and extent of staff training (ranked 18). In fact, the number of researchers in our labor force in 2009 (the last year data was available) surpassed that of many other Latin American countries, and even China.

Operating in Puerto Rico provides companies exemption on profits from U.S. federal taxes, while at the same time operating under American foreign trade zones and customs systems, and offering the same protections and benefits to businesses in the mainland. Our banking system is backed and regulated by the FDIC and we are protected under the Homeland Security Act. We are subject to the American legal framework, including its intellectual property protections, and more importantly, we are U.S. citizens.

The progress will continue as we advance on our economic development roadmap. This month, Dow AgroSciences announced the commencement of operations of a new multimillion dollar lab to research corn, soy, and sunflower. And companies like CooperVision and Lilly continue to invest more than $450 million in Puerto Rico. Hosting the Site Selectors Guild is a great honor because it gives us the opportunity to engage influential people in the reinvention of Puerto Rico as a global business metropolis. We welcome and invite them to make the smart move in a unique, reliable and vibrant investment destination.

Antonio Medina is the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company. 

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