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An Emerging Entrepreneurial Paradise?

Non-profit Invest Puerto Rico is promoting Puerto Rico as “an emerging entrepreneurial paradise.” Are they right?

They report that more than 15,000 people have participated in entrepreneurship programs backed by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, & Research Trust (PRSTRT).

They point to a range of factors:

  • An educated, bilingual workforce
  • A network of co-working spaces
  • Multiple nonprofits supporting start-ups, including incubators
  • Lower wages for workers
  • Lower cost for office space than comparable cities
  • Lower cost of living than New York City or San Francisco
  • Extensive opportunities for outdoor sports ands recreation
  • 5G available across the Island
  • Governed by U.S. law, including intellectual property protection

Who is InvestPR?

Invest Puerto Rico has a mission: “to promote the Island as a competitive investment jurisdiction, that attracts new business and capital investment.”

They partner with Discover Puerto Rico, the government tourism marketing board. Their mission: “Bring prosperity to Puerto Rico by collaboratively positioning our diverse and unique Island as a premier destination for leisure, business, and events.”

Discover Puerto Rico has worked with local businesses, too. They conduct “Google My Business” workshops to help businesses in Puerto Rico use the Google map and review services, used Google Earth to create virtual live tours of the Island that include a wide range of locations, and hosts an online industry portal.

Invest Puerto Rico recently launched an online tool, Impeller, which promises to help build connections among entrepreneurs and investors.

In the spring, InvestPR announced local investments by CytoImmune Therapeutics, Inc. and Biosimilar Solutions, LLC, both biotechnology companies.  The two represent $228 million in local investments. They expect to create about 400 jobs on the Island.

“Once again Puerto Rico demonstrates that we have the talent, resources, and capabilities of a global leader in manufacturing in the Bioscience sector,” said Governor Pierluisi “Puerto Rico is ready to serve our nation by providing a proven ecosystem for reshoring to bring back manufacturing to U.S. soil and ensuring our critical supply chain.”

New ventures

Biosimilar is working on a COVID-19 vaccine. They are building a new facility in Aguadilla.

CytoImmune Therapeutics specializes in cancer immunotherapy treatments. Their facility will be built in Toa Baja.

In addition to companies like these that are taking advantage of Puerto Rico’s friendly business climate to restore and expand their facilities, there are also many local start ups.

While materials for entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico keep tax incentives front and center, a recent survey found that love for Puerto Rico and a desire to be part of economic development on the Island were more popular among start-ups explaining their choice to build their businesses in Puerto Rico.

“I love Puerto Rico and want to give back what Puerto Rico gave me. I know there is a lot of talent here and an opportunity to create jobs…there is a network of people who want to do more,” was a typical response.

The same survey found that most entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico own micro businesses with three or fewer employees. Only 2% of these companies have grown to have 100 employees, and these few companies provide 60% of the jobs. Most have been in business for more than a decade.

Researchers concluded that increasing support for existing companies to help them scale up will make the biggest difference for Puerto Rico economically.

Puerto Rico is already a tropical paradise. While its territorial status creates limitations in business as well as in other areas, with a level playing field, the Island is well situated to become an entrepreneurial paradise as well.

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