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Northeastern region needs ‘focused plan’ to jumpstart economic activity

From left, Edgardo Fábregas, Gustavo Vélez, Mario González-Lafuente and Fajardo Mayor Aníbal Meléndez.

Puerto Rico has to implement a reinvention project focused on an economic and social development plan that includes a specific agenda for the Northeastern region, which is as stagnant as the rest of the island.

The proposal was one of several laid out during the Northeast Region Economic Reinvention Forum hosted this week by the Northeastern Technological Initiative, known as INTENE.

“Puerto Rico has experienced a cyclical economy and the Northeast region is at the same stalemate as the rest of the island,” said Economist Gustavo Vélez, who was one of several forum presenters. “The region shows a loss of population, a bigger aging community, fewer employees and a strong industrial presence with 127 industrial establishments.”

“My proposal is intended to moving from the old model of centralization and seeing the government as facilitator, to a new model of decentralization with INTENE, the region and private enterprise as promoters,” he added.

Founded in August 2006, INTENE works to benefit residents and businesses in Carolina, Trujillo Alto, Canóvanas, Río Grande, Loíza, Luquillo, Fajardo, Ceiba, Vieques and Culebra. Ten college campuses and 10 private-sector organizations contribute to the group’s ongoing efforts.

Vélez concluded his turn at the podium by suggesting “integrated planning, regional reinvention and using a winning model that includes investment, INTENE, planning, promotions, and new economic activity.”

For his part, panelist Mario González-Lafuente, executive director of the Roosevelt Roads Redevelopment Project in Ceiba provided details of the economic impact expected from revitalizing the former Navy base over the next decade.

During the first five years of the plan, the redevelopment project will generate between 1,500 and 2,5000 direct jobs, excluding the staff to be hired by the hospital facility, he said.

Meanwhile, Edgardo Fábregas, head of the Puerto Rico Manufacturing Council, said his recipe for the region’s and the island’s success is built upon “vision, development, long-term focus, being flexible and agile, productivity, competitiveness, adapting to technological changes, investing in human capital and staying focused on innovation.”

The panel discussion took place at the Universidad del Este in Carolina and drew more than 40 members of the island’s business community.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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