Prouty: ‘Puerto Rico must become Caribbean tech hub’
As part of last week’s celebration of the IT Cluster & CIO Summit, businessman Nicholas Prouty, managing partner of investment firm Putnam Bridge, urged members of the island’s technology sector to join forces to convert Puerto Rico into a powerful technological center for the Caribbean region.
During his presentation, Prouty highlighted Puerto Rico’s historical achievements, both in academia, the sciences, as well as creative industries, saying “human capital is the island’s most important asset.”
“Puerto Rico’s most valuable resource for economic development does not lie in its beaches, casinos, and golf clubs, but in its people and sadly that resource has been the island’s greatest export,” Prouty said. “It is the Puerto Rican professional that largely explains the decision of Hewlett Packard to engage in research in Aguadilla or Microsoft’s to have manufacturing operations in Humacao.”
The island’s human capital is developing a new entrepreneurial culture in Puerto Rico, which Prouty said has sparked the potential for growth in the creative technology economy (circles of creation, production and distribution of goods and services that use creativity and intellectual capital as primary input), and in the island’s economic development.
“Puerto Rico has a robust infrastructure made up of ISP’s, and data centers. We have the capacity to offer next-generation network infrastructure with advanced optical networking platform capabilities that will enable dedicated Internet access, co-location services, and managed services that can be sold in PR, the Caribbean and the U.S.,” he said.
Prouty, who reiterated to be a believer in the island’s potential, acquired through his company, Putnam Bridge Funding, the Ciudadela complex in Santurce and Puerto del Rey Marina in Fajardo — acquisitions he used as an example to discuss the island’s investment advantages.
“We performed a thorough analysis and we decided to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in noteworthy projects such as Ciudadela in Santurce. We saw the high potential for the combination of technological, cultural and creative products, which can be generated with local professionals without having to resort to bringing talent from outside,” Prouty said.
“Through this investment I have become an advocate of Puerto Rico to foreign investors and that fills me, because this island has incredible potential to develop a creative economy and thus alleviate the economic crisis,” he said. “So one of our goals is to turn Ciudadela into the focal point of the island’s creative class.”
During his presentation, Prouty offered several tips, which for him, are essential to achieving a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“We must learn to interrogate our practices instead of questioning our talents, capacities, or motives. We have to look past political affiliations and work toward the improvement of Puerto Rico, anything else should be a distant second place,” he said. “We must embrace change, as a new entrepreneurial culture is needed, one with more social awareness.”
Meanwhile, he said people can not be “afraid to take risks. Don’t buy into the media frenzy — it’s not as bad as you might think. We have to do our own analysis and reach our own conclusions.”
Finally, he offered his take on the downgrades that have pushed the island’s credit rating to junk in the past week, saying “Puerto Rico remains absolutely unchanged — Puerto Rico is in the process of a great reinvention and the smart money knows it and that money will soon make its way into your hands.”