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Pridco promotions maintain steady pace in fiscal ’11

The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. has promoted a total of 45 industries during the first nine months of the current fiscal year, keeping up with the pace it showed during the same period last year, the agency’s most recent data shows.

Between July 2010 and March 2011, the promoted operations — 71 percent of which are local industries looking to invest on the island — have pledged to create more than 2,900 jobs, invest $96 million to set up shop, and disburse $51.8 million in salaries.

The agency’s promotion levels are a key economic indicator and give a sense of how businesses will develop on the island in coming months. Pridco’s promotion efforts center around four main goals: total of promoted projects, job commitment, commitment to investment in machinery and equipment, and payroll commitment.

Half of the operations promoted thus far this fiscal year have already begun producing, employing some 2,660 people and investing upward of $19.3 million to get the ball rolling on their businesses.

In its effort to drum up business for the island, Pridco emphasizes on “promoting high technology industries among sectors such as the life sciences, renewable energy, technology, computing and services that leverage on Puerto Rico’s combination of tax incentives, skilled workforce, strong infrastructure and excellent business climate,” according to a description posted on its website.

Among other things, newcomers are offered leasing options on their choice of structures ranging from 4,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet within a portfolio of 25 million square feet of industrial real estate and industrially zoned land currently vacant and available.

Pridco’s current numbers seem to reflect steady year-over-year results for Gov. Luis Fortuño’s administration, which wrapped up last fiscal year with a total of 74 industrial promotions with an associated 4,180 job commitments and $67.2 million in promised investments.

It remains to be seen what effect the recent approval of Law 154, which levies a temporary 4 percent tax on foreign corporations doing business in Puerto Rico, will have on the government’s ability to attract new or additional industrial investment from countries outside the United States in coming months.

Concrete examples
While it usually takes many months to negotiate the terms under which a new company will select Puerto Rico as its next place to do business, and the incentives they will receive in exchange, last year four companies announced the start of new operations as well as the expansion of existing businesses.

In March 2010, aerospace technology services company Axon Puerto Rico opened an SAP Service Center in Isabela, initially employing 107 people on its way to reaching 300 by later this year. The following month, Blu Pharmaceuticals acquired the Biovail facilities in Dorado, helping 84 people retain the jobs they would have otherwise lost with the closing of the latter company.

In May, Iowa-based Pioneer High-Bred announced plans to establish a second research and development plant in Salinas, at a cost of $6 million. The new facility would generate up to 100 new jobs on the island starting this year.

Right before the end of the year, in November, Cardona Compounds, the only pharmaceutical plant financed with native capital operating on the island, opened in the eastern town of Humacao. It initially created 17 jobs, but that number is expected to jump to 100 in 24 months.

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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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