Signs of economic activity in former Roosevelt Roads naval station, in Ceiba, revalidate its great potential to boost the eastern zone as one of the strategic pillars to economically and socially revitalize the island.
The reactivation of the former Navy facility is supported by projects focused on the sectors of renewable energy, health, technology, aerospace industry, transportation and services export. Private capital initiatives -supported by infrastructure projects and improvements financed by federal recovery funds-, foresee job creation and economic activity for an area of economically depressed municipalities.
Creating jobs has been a very difficult task in the east, despite natural and human resources in the area. General unemployment ranges from eleven to twelve percent. Luquillo, Fajardo, Ceiba and Naguabo have unemployment rates between twelve to fourteen percent.
The key to accelerate the development of land transferred to the government of Puerto Rico is in the master plan designed in 2014. The document was revised to incorporate the figure of the "anchor tenant", with the intention of attracting private investment. The idea is to create the bases for projects that range from a main plan to transform the maritime front into a leading one, to the construction of housing for the elderly.
Thus, the facility that ceased naval operations 14 years ago houses -within its 9,300 acres- the hope of a sustainable planned development for the benefit of a region in serious need of production activities.
One of the promising projects is the creation of an industrial park that, if created, will allow a greater development of the aerospace industry that has already taken off in the western region. The model in Ceiba is similar to that of Las Américas Technology Park, in Moca and supported by high-skilled resources from our higher education institutions.
There is already a ferry dock in Ceiba, operating to the island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra. Short routes from this port, which is undergoing remodeling, provide a constant traffic of passengers that can support small food businesses and services close to the former naval facilities.
It is important for the pier to be part of an enriching experience for those who visit our islands and their wonderful beaches. Vieques and Culebra should be a must destination for the Caribbean lover tourist or, at least, a starting point to other Caribbean islands. This is a strategy should be promoted, as it ha already been successfully done with sale of rights to use the Ocean Club vacation units.
In parallel, those concerns of the neighbors of Vieques and Culebra -who received medical services and did some transactions in Fajardo, where the old dock is located, - so that they have options for service providers in Ceiba, need to be addressed. These people have suffered the consequences of deficient maritime transportion for too long, in addition to the precariousness of basic services in their municipalities.
Projects for the development of Roosevelt Roads represent housing, recreation and work options for the residents of the island municipalities and the Ceiba region. These opportunities are supported by an investment of $ 500 million in federal funds for capital and infrastructure improvements.
Diversified and innovative investment that makes its way into Roosevelt Roads is a commitment to growth in communities severely affected by the economy’s long decline. We hope that the prosperity that emerges from the economic activity in the former naval station will become an example for the whole island.
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