Puerto Rico among states selected for manufacturing Policy Academy

SAN JUAN – Following a competitive application process, four states have been selected to participate in a “Policy Academy designed to help grow and strengthen manufacturing” in those jurisdictions. The teams began meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C. with policy experts to work on “strategies to bolster manufacturing,” the nonprofit State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI) said Tuesday.

The participants chosen are Kentucky, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and Utah. Each team includes representatives from the participants’ governor’s office, state economic development department, Manufacturing Extension Partnership center, manufacturing trade association, and other manufacturing centers.

“This is the first time we participated and we were selected to receive advice and technical assistance to create in Puerto Rico and attract manufacturing related to innovation and technology. Undoubtedly, this is one of the key objectives of our administration’s development plan to accelerate economic growth and the creation of well-paying jobs,” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said in a statement Wednesday.

“Manufacturing is a vital component of the economy in each state and the success of the manufacturing sector is imperative for the country’s strength and competitiveness,” Dan Berglund, president and CEO of SSTI, which is helping to coordinate the academy had said in a release issued Tuesday. “We are looking forward to supporting the states as they strengthen their manufacturing base and build on their success. We expect that each of the participants will develop new initiatives or expand on those already in place to advance their manufacturing agenda.”

The year-long academy “will guide the states through a planning and implementation process to identify relevant manufacturing-related partnerships and policies to move their economic development strategies forward,” the SSTI said.

The Ohio-based organization supplies information about tech-based economic development such as available programs and funding opportunities offered by the federal government.

Each participant will receive “customized assistance through access to national experts and collaboration with colleagues in other states. They may choose to focus on addressing skills gaps, accelerating start-up growth, expanding their market, improving their supply chain or other priorities the state teams identify,” the release explained.

The academy is being coordinated by SSTI and the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC), which provides policymakers with information and technical assistance to execute job-creating economic strategies. The program also counts on support from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

There are MEP Centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, “and more than 1,300 manufacturing experts at over 400 service locations, providing any U.S. manufacturer with access to resources they need to succeed,” the release reads.

Manufacturing makes up 47% of Puerto Rico’s gross national product (GNP), while the figure stateside is 30%, Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy said. “Therefore, we have great opportunities to continuing to expand this economic sector that brings so many advantages for our island, and we are headed in that direction,” he said.

The official said MEP will be directing a “planning and implementation process” to accelerate the growth of emerging companies; expanding the markets of small companies by promoting exports; and improving supply-chain links.

During the week, Laboy will also meet with members of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to begin preparing a work plan for BEA to estimate the island’s gross domestic product (GDP).