SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Alberto Bacó-Bagué, the Secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC), on Tuesday spoke to business leaders and start-ups at the National Black and Latino Council’s Black, Brown and Green Sustainability Summit about Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurial business growth and idea cultivation.
“Our top priority is to put our strong skilled and educated workforce to work,” Bacó said. “We are focused on creating a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem that will strengthen Puerto Rico’s well-established manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries, while also supporting the emergence of new sectors.”
Entrepreneurs account for the largest increase in recent job numbers on the island, and DDEC encourages this growth with financial incentives and training for young people, and provides resources to support the start-up of sustainable businesses.
Bacó said the program is fostering the development of less traditional industries such as creative and knowledge services, which are key growth targets for the Commonwealth’s economic development plan. The government is supporting start-ups with world-class technology infrastructure and programs that ensure energy efficiency. For instance, Puerto Rico recently announced Gigabit Island, a $17 million project to provide ultra-high-speed internet.
As an example of the innovative spirit of the island, earlier this year Puerto Rico hosted its second hackathon, where 125 developers created apps that help provide better services to Puerto Rico residents. Apps developed during last year’s event provide real-life solutions to Puerto Ricans by helping keep kids in school and tracking bus routes.
Puerto Rico’s overall strategic economic initiatives are expected to contribute to the creation of nearly 140,000 jobs by the end of 2017, potentially adding $11 billion to the Commonwealth’s GDP and generating $350-500 million in additional tax revenue.