Blue Economy activity could generate $82M annually for Puerto Rico, experts say
Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have a “unique opportunity” to lead eco-responsible business innovations in the international market, as well as export services, technology, products, and knowledge in Blue Economy solutions that could translate into $82 million annually for Puerto Rico.
How to achieve it was the main theme of the Bluetide Caribbean Summit, coordinated by nonprofit organization Bluetide Puerto Rico, and in which a meeting between Gov. Pedro Pierluisi USVI Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., took place.
“It’s important to create a functional synergy among all the industries that belong to the Blue Economy so that by complementing each other, they can develop effectively,” said Pierluisi.
“In the same way, we must work together with the USVI, with whom we share many development qualities, including the same ocean,” he added. “If we focus on the export of these goods and services, we would be actively inserting the Caribbean region in the global market projection of $12.4 trillion by 2030.”
The most recognized industries such as local or recreational fishing, transportation and shipping, hotels, recreation and tourism, construction and boat mechanics, seawater desalination, and others such as the needle or insurance industries, are considered part of the Blue Economy.
According to National Ocean Watch statistics, ocean industries represent about 7% of Puerto Rico’s total employment.
Pierluisi also spoke about the status of the Marine Business, Research and Innovation Center known as M-BRIC, a 45,000 square foot building that seeks to become the first Oceanographic Institute in our region and which will be in Roosevelt Roads in Ceiba.
“In conjunction with BlueTide Puerto Rico, M-BRIC will provide the perfect environment to attract private sector investment for the development of Puerto Rico and the USVI’s Blue Economy,” Pierluisi said during his presentation at the event.
As News is my Business reported, the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently awarded a $16 million grant to the Local Roosevelt Roads Redevelopment Authority for its design and construction, to be complemented with investment from the island, hoping that it will generate at — its maximum capacity — more than 29,000 jobs, said Juan Bauzá, the EDA’s representative for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
“Once the contract is awarded through a bidding process, it should take 36 to 48 months to build,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pierluisi said the government is also looking into other opportunities to develop the former Naval Base in Ceiba, including the possible establishment of a solid waste collection center and “recycling park,” including a transshipment station.
“We are considering amending the Roosevelt Roads Redevelopment Authority Law to endow the Authority with greater flexibility, more resources, and better tools, like those provided to the Convention Center District Authority, which have worked so well,” Pierluisi said.
“Furthermore, we’ll pursue further communications with the US Navy and other federal government authorities to achieve greater flexibility in currently applicable redevelopment restrictions,” he added.
The Bluetide Caribbean Summit focused on opportunities for the private sector and companies of all types and capacity levels. The meeting between both Governors of the Caribbean took place in a framework of collaboration between private companies and government entities to develop a competitive advantage that allows the economy to grow through our marine ecosystem.
“In the USVI, we have traditionally governed and operated with our back to the water. However, we have an opportunity now, as we work to diversify our economy, to take full advantage of what our marine ecosystem has to offer, and I hope to establish a closer collaboration between our Islands in the development of the blue economy,” Bryan Jr. said.
Entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals from all over the island, and some of the mayors of the 44 coastal towns, gathered to attend the conferences by more than 35 speakers from Puerto Rico and the United States.