If you weren’t able to attend, we thought you would like a quick summary, along with some visual stimulation, of our #GrowPR forum from July 26th, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. 

See the official press release here.

#GrowPR forum video 1         #GrowPR forum video 2

Here are just a few notable quotes/paraphrases from our speakers:

Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón, Representative, Puerto Rico, (@RepJenniffer)

  • Despite “doing the work of seven offices,” the Congresswoman spoke of her office’s many accomplishments in bringing economic development aid to Puerto Rico, parity for healthcare recipients,  veterans’ affairs, telecommunications, and more.

Rodrigo Masses-Artze, President, Puerto Rico Manufacturers’ Association, (@IndustrialesPR)

  • The need for a more transparent system of contracts, business in general, and improved governance on the island.  “If we operate over-the-table, only then when we be able to contribute to the economy.” He continued, “If we are fulfilling one of the basics requirements of and Democracy, fulfilling commitments [we will turn around and] investors are beginning to see a very good opportunity in Puerto Rico.”

Sebastian Vidal, Executive Director, Parallel18, (@VidalSebastian1, @P18Startups)

  • “To understand the policy needs of the people of Puerto Rico, you have to speak to them.”  
  • “Tax incentives are very important to entrepreneurs, but we need to promote them better.”

Christine Myers, SBA appointed advocate for small businesses in PR, NY, NJ, & USVI, (@AdvocacySBA)

  • Introduced the SBA office of Advocacy and offered her office’s support to those in the audience as well as in Puerto Rico.
  • Spoke of some of the impediments to small business growth on the island, as well as for Hispanic businesses and businesses in general across the U.S.

Beatriz Manetta, CEO, Argent Solutions; board, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (@USHCC)

  • Discussed federal contracting opportunities and the ways in which we can improve those opportunities in our communities.
  • Also discussed her work with the USHCC and NMSDC to help give back to Puerto Ricans.
  • “One way to find the number of infrastructure and telecommunications build out opportunities in Puerto Rico is to visit P3.pr.gov, which lists projects in telco, maritime, security, and more.
  • Marketers should make the promotion of PR simple and easy to understand. 

Matthew T. Foley, CEO BlockChainRiver, LLC.

  • As a former Chief Public Defender in Northern Virginia, he ran his governmental office as a business and realized that more governments can and should do the same.
  • For instance, governments in similar rebuilding circumstances as Puerto Rico can apply blockchain technologies to improve the government efficiency, be more transparent and provide better services. 
  • “I think PR can be turned around if promoted in a pithy and smart way if individuals and businesses can do more online and easily.  Many more will invest.”

John C. Cronin, Serial entrepreneur; President, BuildCoin Foundation; CEO, OpCenter, (@CryptoCronin, @BuildCoinFound)

  • “How is it possible that you can register a business or become a citizen of a country like Estonia, whose economy has done very well recently, but have to stand in line at 7 a.m. to speak to a person just to connect your cable in Puerto Rico?”
  • “Something has to change to attract entrepreneurs and investors to PR.”
  • “When it comes to infrastructure, lack of transparency is huge hurdle for capital draws. If the proper incentives are laid, Puerto Rico can leapfrog generations of tech; we’re trying to attract experts from around world to implement [these incentives].

Javier Saade, Venture Partner, Fenway Summer Ventures; fmr. Assoc. Administrator of SBA, (@Javier_Saade)

  • The supply side of Puerto Rico’s economy, the tax incentives, are the best in world and probably can’t get any better.  What we need to improve is human capital, ideas, and infrastructure, and most of all we need capital.”
  • In order to get capital, you need investors.  But investors have a very hard time assessing their risk in Puerto Rico right now, which makes it difficult to attract.
  • PR has a competitive advantage that no one else has, but hasn’t been able to thread the needle between policy, capital, talent, and entrepreneurship that make up that supply.
  • He continued by providing the example of Estonia, which is an all digital society.  The cost of business is much lower, it’s easy to set up and maintain and it’s drawing huge amounts of capital from around the world.

Given the event’s high demand, the NPRChamber will host related events in the future.  Please email info@NPRChamber.org for more information.

About the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce

The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce (NPRChamber) is a non-profit organization created to promote entrepreneurship and economic development throughout the U.S. Feel free to contact the NPRChamber via email: Info@NPRChamber.org.  If interested in joining our fast-growing organization – or would like to contribute to our RECOVER & PREP fund, please visit www.NPRChamber.org.