Fort San Felipe del Morro, Puerto Rico

Once again, Puerto Rico has the opportunity to diversify its economy.

As recently as Aug. 19, 2019, the guidelines for the Opportunity Zones were completed.

The Opportunity Zones are a tax benefit granted to foreign and local investors who invest in projects of infrastructure, construction, manufacturing and housing, among other initiatives, that are located in economically depressed areas in the United States.

No fear whatsoever, as Puerto Rico’s infrastructure before and after Hurricane Maria, its unemployment rates, high energy cost and emigration, among others, resulted in that almost the entire island is an Opportunity Zone.

The government, under the leadership of the governor, must address this with the highest priority. It is important to include all the players, including universities, the private, public, financial and nonprofit sectors, to complete a “map” of opportunities, instead of waiting for the investors, and go for them with a well-prepared menu of opportunities. This effort can represent an investment of over $50 billions in Puerto Rico, representing thousands of jobs and developing hundreds of local industries to afford the projects’ demand.

Another great opportunity is in the music sector. In the 1970s, Puerto Rico was the bridge through this part of the world for many artists like Raphael, Julio Iglesias and José Luis Rodríguez. However, we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity and Miami took it, and nowadays, Miami is the principal market for launching important artists in their international careers.

Like it or not, urban music is no longer just trendy, it is a genre. What started out as an underground movement is now a global movement comprised of artists from South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe, not just Puerto Rico. We are not alone anymore.

Every day, millions of dollars are invested in that music genre. Recently, an international record company signed an agreement for five years, worth $80 million, to a local exponent of the Puerto Rican genre.

Before another country takes advantage of this opportunity, the Department of Economic Development in Puerto Rico must extend the actual benefits to the film companies and the filmmakers to the music industry.

Doing this, Puerto Rico can become the center of productions, contents, events and recordings of the world, creating hundreds of jobs, exporting our services and creating wealth since the proceeds of the profits return to our country. We have a great opportunity to be the music center of the world!

Times require agility, anticipation and creativity; otherwise, it will always open the door to someone else who is looking and thinking about how to take a piece of what we have.

Founder of Los Cidrines, Former President of the Puerto Rico Products Association, Former President of the Puerto Rico Manufacturing Association and Former Independent Candidate for Governor during Puerto Rico’s 2016

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