To promote Guaynabo City as a place to invest in, move to and build a life is the new proposal for the municipality’s rebranding as a new economic hub in Puerto Rico to “grow, live and dream.”
“Municipalities used to depend on the economic help that the central government provided. That has been [in the process of being] eliminated, so municipalities have had to reinvent themselves and become self-sufficient; this rebranding is part of that,” said Guaynabo Mayor Ángel Pérez.
In an effort to present Guaynabo as the best city to invest and open a business, a series of measures have been established, such as ordinance Num. 4 from 2018-2019, which states that according to the sales volume and investment that the business represents to the municipality, certain tax benefits could be granted.
“For example, you have the opportunity to have a tax benefit in terms of CRIM, (Centro de Recaudación de Ingresos Municipales by its acronym in Spanish), but it has to be an investment of more than $5 million in infrastructure and generate a sales volume, based on that activity, of at least $15 million,” said Raúl Torres Gómez, director of Guaynabo’s economic development office.
Torres added that there is another incentive designed to help entrepreneurs receive up to a 60 percent tax exemption on their municipal taxes and those on assets. This incentive is not straightforward in the sense that various factors, such as where the business is located in Guaynabo, the type of business, investment amount and generated sales volume, all help to determine the amount of the tax exemption to be received.
The mayor added that due to the low volume that is usually generated in sales during the first six months of a new business operation, the municipality will help business owners with payroll expenses through a consortium structure.
According to Pérez, having businesses open their doors is the best way for the municipality to generate economic activity; therefore, facilitating and speeding up permit processes is also part of Guaynabo’s rebranding initiative.
“At this moment, we have asked the OMB [Office of Management and Budget] and Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy to allow us to create a task force whereby we can train and certify a group of individuals so they can grant provisional permits for the health and firefighter inspections, which take the longest to be approved,” the mayor added.
Based on 2018 U.S. Census Bureau data, Guaynabo has an estimated population of 83,787 people, a drop of 14.4 percent since April 2010, when the municipality had 97,918 residents. Guaynabo residents are relatively well-off compared with the islandwide average, as the median household income was $34,060 a year. The Census reports that the median household income in Puerto Rico is $19,343 a year. In 2018, the municipality also registered 2,034 business establishments, employing 38,450 people.
—Reporter Rosario Fajardo contributed to this report.