Saturday, March 17, 2018

Ponce Mayor seeks to improve business environment after Maria

By on March 1, 2018

SAN JUAN — Ponce Mayor María Meléndez reiterated before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that her town is open for business, and received the organization’s support to obtain technical assistance to improve Puerto Rico’s business environment after Hurricane Maria.

As for Ponce’s business environment, Meléndez said the southern town is simplifying fiscal and administrative processes and requirements for people to start a business or to boost growth of an existing company.

“We must modernize our digital system and move toward diversifying energy sources and the use of renewable energy. We need to reduce energy costs and establish more reliable energy sources,” the mayor said in a written statement.

During the meeting, organized by U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center, Meléndez presented Puerto Rico’s conditions to leading U.S. companies interested in contributing to the island’s recovery. The entities expressed their interest in knowing how they could allocate resources to improve the island’s financial scenario amid its current crisis.

The roundtable was moderated by Neil Bradley, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who shares his interest in identifying different ways in which the parties present could contribute to the same goal of recovery.

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“It is irrefutable that the current situation remains delicate both for the government and our people. Although we have accomplished important advances, we are conscious that we are facing an extremely complex and challenging environment, characterized by uncertainty and multiple unprecedented variables. If something can be said of Hurricane Maria, it’s that it has highlighted the urgency to transform our energy system,” Meléndez said.

“Our families continue fragmenting themselves: There are still many people without access to essential services, without electricity, without water. The rebuilding process will be long and hard. And above all, it will require the integration of all sectors. That is why I want to invite the [U.S.] Chamber and a delegation of companies to visit our city to see how you can contribute to rebuilding and make commercial investments in the future,” she added.

The event ended with the clear message that the “[U.S.] American citizens in Puerto Rico are resilient. As we have shown in the past, we must be dynamic, make adjustments and be proactive when we face challenges like Hurricane Maria.”

The companies that participated in the meeting were represented by Brian Gamberini, Home Depot; Andrew Marino and Stacey Dion, the Carlyle Group; Whitney Tull, Zimmer Biomet; Maria Luisa Boyce, UPS; Brian Tynan, AECOM; Kriss Stanley; Natalie Mamerow, American Society of Civil Engineers; and Melisa Robinson, Hilton; PricewaterhouseCoopers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was represented by Neil Bradley, Marc DeCourcey and Brooks Nelson.

The mayor also thanked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for its intervention and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for attending to the emergency, as well as Congress for its allocations to aid the island in its recovery process.

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