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The PRIDCO-Invest Puerto Rico transition is good to go
May 30, 2018
On July 1, 2018, as the new fiscal year kicks in, Invest Puerto Rico will formally begin operations. The private nonprofit entity that was created by law, will have the task of focusing efforts on attracting new businesses to the island.
This was confirmed by the architect Ricardo Alvarez Diaz, an Invest PR board member. “The plan is to have, by this date, the organizational setup and structure, as well as a place from which operate, and bylaws,” he noted.
“After July 1 we will begin to meet with all of the groups that can contribute to the subject of economic development, to agree on a vision that includes all sectors, because this is a collaborative effort between private business, nonprofits, and the government,” explained Alvarez Diaz, who is also cofounder of the design and architecture firm AD&V.
In August, the results of these meetings will be used to create a defined strategy on how to market Puerto Rico as an investment destination, as well as define the metrics the organization will use to fulfill the objective.
Alvarez Diaz noted that the during the research process and in establishing their internal regulations, the board members looked to models such as Jobs Ohio, Invest Atlanta, and Enterprise Florida, “to adopt best practices and position ourselves as a credible entity.”
“In Puerto Rico we can say that the traditional metrics currently being used are not very credible, so we are working to implement internal and alternate mechanisms not just to measure the current reality, but also to the efficacy of a reality that may exist in the future,” he added.
This means that the metrics should be clear and with a periodicity that allows course adjustment when necessary, as opposed to holding on to one idea and not letting go, even if it is not working, he added. “We must understand that markets are changing rapidly, like never before. Today, an S&P 500 company has an average lifespan of just 15 years,” he cited as an example.
Meanwhile, Alvarez Diaz remarked that the board is working on a system of internal checks and balances to ensure the prudent use of public funds as well as transparency in the influx of private funding.
As to the operational reach of Invest PR in light of the duties of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, its Spanish acronym) and the Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO), Alvarez Diaz emphasized that the entity must focus on “new businesses, because that is what the law clearly states.”
“We are not going to bring industries just because. We are going to do so within clear short-, mid-, and long-term strategies,” he concluded.
In a separate interview, DDEC Secretary and PRIDCO executive director Manuel Laboy confirmed the status of Invest PR as reported by Alvarez Diaz. Laboy, along with Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin, are the two government representatives on the board of the new private entity.
Laboy explained that the board is finalizing several work plans “that are required by law to draw up a contract between DDEC and Invest PR.” The formalization of this contract by July 1 will allow for the transfer of seed capital so that the organization complete the necessary hiring process to begin operating.
Promotional efforts are ongoing
On the other hand, Laboy commented that the transition process has not halted industrial promotional efforts or his agency’s retention initiatives. These have proven to be fruitful because, eight months after Hurricane Maria, “no business has told us they plan to leave the island.”
“It is completely incorrect to say that industrial promotional efforts are not being looked after,” said Laboy.
To support his statement, Laboy noted the recent announcement of a new Italian biotech company, Copan Industries. The company decided to set up operations in Aguadilla with a $13-million investment and a commitment to create 100 jobs. Laboy recalled that the conversations with Copan, “a brand-new company that had never been in Puerto Rico before,” began prior to the onslaught of the hurricane.
“Naturally, we were worried if they would still be interested in Puerto Rico, but, things being as they are, we managed to land the project,” he observed.
For Laboy, this is a clear example of the efficacy of efforts aimed at fostering relationships not just with interested companies, but also with the executives and parent companies of businesses that already operate in Puerto Rico. Throughout his tenure, Laboy has visited the headquarters of companies such as Behringer, Sartorius, Roche, Fresenius, Amgen, and Lufthansa Technik. “These face-to-face meetings are incredibly important, because the people at headquarters visit the destinations that compete with us,” added Laboy.