Type to search

Featured Labor/HR

Florida businesses called to action: Help rebuild Puerto Rico’s economy

ORLANDO, Fla. – Doing business in Puerto Rico and helping to rebuild the island by getting companies to collaborate on federal projects, thus generating local jobs and revitalizing the economy, are among the calls to action from Puerto Rican authorities in Florida.

The executive directors of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), Luis Dávila-Pernas and Manuel A. Laboy-Rivera, together with Gabriel Maldonado-González, secretary of the island’s Department of Labor and Human Resources, recently held an event titled “Puerto Rico: Resilience and Reconstruction” in Orlando, Florida. 

The purpose of the event was to strengthen the availability of resources for swift construction project development. The event was a part of the strategies to advance the reconstruction process in Puerto Rico.

During the event, Mayra Ramos-Miró, regional director of the PRFAA in Florida, emphasized the commitment to supporting Puerto Ricans in the area through collaborations with local businesses, communities, entrepreneurs and organizations.

The event at Orlando City Hall included participation from local Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce chapters, the Hispanic Federation, the University of Central Florida, and the National Association of Elected and Appointed Latino Officials.

Laboy-Rivera presented a report on the progress of the reconstruction efforts in Puerto Rico, highlighting opportunities for companies to engage with significant projects and become part of the island’s reconstruction, stressing, “We are against the clock. The best time is now. We can be the hub for the USA or the Caribbean.” 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has allocated approximately $28 billion to rebuild structures damaged by Hurricane Maria and subsequent earthquakes in the island’s southwestern region.

Laboy-Rivera also noted a shortfall in bid participation for these projects.

Although Juan Vélez and Marcela Restrepo, owners of Orlando-based construction firm SkyBuilders USA, sought to start operating on the island, they encountered difficulties.

“We are interested in doing business in Puerto Rico. We have loved Puerto Rico since we went on our first business trip. We saw a lot of opportunities but challenges too,” said Restrepo.

Following the meeting, they expressed a desire to learn more about joint ventures with local companies and the collaborative process.

Laboy-Rivera pledged to work with the PRFAA to support partnerships between companies in Puerto Rico and Florida for this initiative.

“Puerto Rico is at an important moment in its history, and the change is evident. Over the past three years, we have supported municipalities, government agencies and nonprofit entities through technical assistance and various mechanisms to direct the development of over 9,300 permanent projects. 

“Meanwhile, another nearly 2,800 works have been completed. These works transform and improve the conditions that positively affect the socioeconomic development and daily life of the people. As a team, we have overcome great challenges, and we are identifying opportunities that allow us to address other inherent challenges in the construction sector due to situations that occur worldwide,” Laboy-Rivera remarked.

Maldonado-González discussed the issues surrounding unemployment and the challenges faced by the workforce.

“It is important that Puerto Ricans who are part of the community of Orlando and nearby cities, as well as other jurisdictions in the United States, are informed about the economic rebound and the historically positive numbers in the labor market that we have been experiencing for the last three years, as well as the efforts that the government is carrying out to meet the need for additional labor in all economic sectors,” the Labor secretary emphasized.

“As an example, we have seen a significant 27% increase in total construction jobs from January 2021 to February 2024, but we need thousands of additional workers to complete the rebuilding process. To achieve this, it is imperative to continue promoting initiatives aimed at inserting more people into the island’s workforce, and direct collaboration with the community of Puerto Ricans living in Florida and other states can be key to these efforts,” Maldonado-González added.

Author Details
Author Details
With almost 20 years of experience in the world of communications and the digital world, Cecilia Figueroa is a Multimedia Journalist for several media outlets in Florida, Puerto Rico and other countries. She has worked producing bilingual (English and Spanish) content for traditional and digital media.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *