Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy met today with Manuel Cidre to begin the transition process for the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym).
Laboy, who was appointed by then-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, affirmed that he is "extremely" proud of the agency's achievements in the past four years, despite numerous adversities that have impacted the local economy. Some of the hardships endured under his leadership include Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, preceded by the Zika virus, the summer protests of 2019 that resulted in the resignation of Rosselló and other members of his Cabinet, devastating earthquakes in the southwestern region of the island, and the present COVID-19 pandemic.
"It was a time of unthinkable challenges but as a team, collaborating with other state and municipal government agencies, as well as with private organizations, we managed to face every situation. As part of our work, we achieved public policy to improve and accelerate the way to do business in Puerto Rico, always seeking the best benefit for the people," he said in a missive.
He underscored some of the agency's accomplishments in the past four years: the amended Puerto Rico Incentives Code; the creation of Invest Puerto Rico; obtaining the air cargo and passenger waiver by the U.S. Department of Transportation; support for the local film industry; the development of PROtech; implementing Act 142-2018 of the Execution of the Reorganization Plan of the DDEC, "which offers necessary aid for entrepreneurs in a single place."
"Under this administration, specific projects were promoted in the former Roosevelt Roads land in Ceiba, which will be of great benefit to economic development in the eastern region of the island. Currently there are 15 projects under development for a total of $450 million in investment with the commitment to create 3,650 jobs," the missive adds.
The official added that they also created programs focused on helping local entrepreneurs through the following programs: Desarrollo Laboral, Desarrollo de la Juventud, Pymes Innovadoras, Programa de Hidropónico, Maletín Emoresarial para la Mujer, among others.
"Even with the challenges that have arisen during this four-year period, we were able to help establish 286 new projects, obtain commitments for the creation of 16,293 new jobs and investment commitments in infrastructure, machinery and equipment, of more than $1.4 billion," said Laboy, who thanked the DDEC's workers.
Starting January 2021, the DDEC will be headed by Manuel Cidre, the founder of Los Cidrines and recurring columnist for THE WEEKLY JOURNAL.
Laboy, who also serves as the executive director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (PRIDCO), expressed confidence in Cidre's capacity to lead the agency, hinting that the processes already enacted should be allowed to remain under the new administration.
"We trust that the projects, programs, laws and initiatives already under way will continue. In this way, a favorable economic climate continues to be promoted, companies will have the opportunity to prosper alongside the working class they employ, and the government will enhance its role as facilitator. To Cidre Miranda, I wish him the best of success and you can always count on me and the first-rate team of DDEC employees," Laboy stated.