Governor-elect appoints economic development team
SAN JUAN – Governor-elect Ricardo Rosselló announced Monday his economic development team, which will be headed by engineer Manuel Laboy Rivera as secretary of the Economic Development and Commerce Department (DDEC by its initials in Spanish).
Laboy Rivera served in the administration of former Gov. Luis Fortuño as deputy DDEC secretary and is a chemical engineer with experience in manufacturing, utilities, renewable energy, infrastructure, permits, environmental compliance, technology, entrepreneurship and project management.
Besides Laboy Rivera, Rosselló announced the appointment of María del Carmen Gordillo Pérez as president of the Puerto Rico Planning Board, and attorney María Palou Abasolo as his development and infrastructure adviser.
“I am grateful for the availability of these renowned professionals who today accept to join the work team that has the task of transforming Puerto Rico into a progressive society where each son of this land will feel the pride of being born in a land of opportunity,” Rosselló said. “Here you have several of my main appointments to seek investment for Puerto Rico to grow. I trust this team completely and know that together we will build a new Puerto Rico.”
Immediately following his appointment, the newly tapped DDEC secretary said the economic development of Puerto Rico is possible and assured he would reach that goal.
“We don’t need superheroes to address our problems and achieve success. The solution is in our hands. There isn’t any time to conduct more studies; we have a plan for Puerto Rico with specific solutions to push Puerto Rico forward. The time has come to implement it. As an engineer and project manager, that is what I have done throughout my career: execute, fulfill objectives and reach goals. We have to address the most basic things that threaten our competitivity in attracting investment from abroad and developing our small and midsize enterprises,” Laboy Rivera said.
The engineer added that the government has to become a facilitator for new businesses and therefore it is fundamental to work hand in hand with legislators and municipalities to ensure economic development occurs in all regions and sectors.
For her part, the appointee to preside the Planning Board said she will work toward changing the agency’s reputation.
“The Planning Board has had a credibility problem in the past decades and we want to bring back that credibility within its planning processes. The board’s organic law clearly states that it is the axis of the economic, social and physical development of the island. There has been a lack of balance for years and we want to change that,” said Gordillo Pérez, who earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences with a concentration in geography from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), studied geographic information systems and has certificates in ecosystem management from the Colorado Institute, as well as in environmental permitting and regulations from the UPR.
Meanwhile, Rosselló’s adviser in development and infrastructure said she was moved by the appointment and is ready to help Puerto Rico.
“Economic development is to transform Puerto Rico into an apt destination for investment. Opening doors to starting your business in Puerto Rico was one of the cornerstones of our campaign and it will be a cornerstone of our administration. We have initiatives to help small and midsize businesses. We will work on what will end up being an incentives code, which instead of having [incentives] all spread out, with people not knowing which ones they are, we will have them as part of a code with specific indicators such as job creation, wealth creation, that can be measured. Our mentality is all about removing obstacles for the private sector,” the governor-elect said.
He added that regarding the issue of cannabis for medicinal purposes, his administration would file legislation to establish clear parameters that would allow that industry to grow in Puerto Rico.
On Wednesday last week, Rosselló announced the appointment of Women’s Advocate Wanda Vázquez to be Justice secretary and that of Col. Michelle Hernández Fraley as the first woman police superintendent.
Rosselló has already announced the appointment of William Villafañe as La Fortaleza chief of staff; Itza García as deputy chief of staff; Ramón Rosario Cortés as Public Affairs secretary and Alfonso Orona as chief legal adviser to the governor.
In addition, he appointment Elías Sánchez as his representative before the Financial Oversight & Management Board.
Gov.-elect Ricardo Rosselló, behind podium, is flanked by, from left, María Palou, Manuel Laboy and María del Carmen Gordillo (CyberNews).