This week, the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico and a team of experts from federal agencies hosted roundtable discussions with Governor Alejandro García Padilla’s Administration, leaders from across the public and private sector, as well as foundation stakeholders. The roundtables are part of the Task Force’s ongoing efforts to work with Puerto Rico, encouraging the Commonwealth to take full advantage of existing federal resources and move its economy forward. Vice President Biden also met with the Governor to reiterate the Administration’s commitment to help the people of Puerto Rico on their path to economic growth and to create more opportunity for the Island and its residents.
The roundtable discussions made progress on the following three areas:
a) Making Puerto Rico Open for Business through Public/Private Partnerships;
b) Energy Leadership and Innovation Economic Competitiveness;
c) The Knowledge-based Economy
During these discussions, the García Padilla Administration reiterated its commitment to identifying private sector partnerships to strengthen the economy and create opportunities for the people of Puerto Rico. One example of this commitment is a promising collaborative effort to begin producing base proteins for an AIDS vaccine between the National Institutes of Health, University of Puerto Rico and Microbiology Center.
Our discussions also focused on mechanisms to strengthen Puerto Rico’s economic competitiveness. Entrepreneurs working in emerging markets have developed innovative, financially viable business models for capturing the potential of the knowledge-based economy and delivering essential goods and services. Central to this discussion was the need to develop the human capital in Puerto Rico necessary for these entrepreneurs and their financial backers to scale successful local innovations and deploy them.
The roundtables also focused on prospects for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, analytical tools, and financing. Governor García Padilla reminded the Task Force that energy innovation is key to the development of Puerto Rico’s future economy. The participants explored how business, government, and community leaders can obtain information and tools to guide their organizations and communities in energy-related decisions and planning.
Today’s meeting included an update from Governor García Padilla on Puerto Rico’s progress implementing measures to reduce the Commonwealth’s deficit, strengthen its overall fiscal position, and grow the Puerto Rican economy. The Governor’s Administration reaffirmed its commitment to getting the economy of the Commonwealth back on track to recovery. The Obama Administration remains dedicated to being a strong partner in helping them achieve this important goal.
In the coming months, the Task Force will continue to take action and provide advice and recommendations on policies and initiatives that will complement Governor García Padilla’s plan to promote job creation, education, health care, clean energy and economic development in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico’s challenges did not develop overnight. And while they will not be solved overnight, the President’s Puerto Rico Task Force will continue to work with the García Padilla Administration to move Puerto Rico’s economy forward.
David Agnew is Co-Chair of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico