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The small relief the local economy is experiencing should help the private sector focus on innovation, promote debate pertaining socio-economic development on the island extensive to all sectors of society and contribute to the creation of a Puerto Rican entrepreneurial class more linked to the region and to the world.

Said is the objective of the fourth edition of the Chamber of Commerce (CCPR) Puerto Rico Conference, which according to event promoters has become a forum to find solutions to current challenges.

According to Francisco Rodríguez Castro, from UBS Financial Services, the event would be held March 28 and they expect 500 professionals to attend. The conference would include local and foreign entrepreneurs, investors, analysts and government officials.

Rodríguez Castro informed this time the conference -- whose theme is “Revitalizing innovation” -- would focus on the manufacturing sector and corporations with high exportation potential, which in turn are compatible with the common goal of redirecting the local economy. For that, the CCPR has decided to join efforts with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  

“The conference has become a legacy for the country,” he noted.

Meanwhile, María Eugenia Ferré Rangel, chief executive officer of GFR Media, indicated that the event was initially created “in response” to the recession in Puerto Rico, but now should serve as platform to boost the evolution and innovation process that Puerto Rican entrepreneurs should undertake. The task would require building bridges in order to keep the unions and the Third Sector in mind, to emphasize on unity of purpose, and promote the transparency and confidence that make possible entrepreneurial management.

“We wanted to have consistency and for the event to transcend the entrepreneurial sector of which we are a part of,” said Ferré Rangel, making reference to the support El Nuevo Día has given the initiative from day one.

The Puerto Rico Conference hosted by the CCPR was established in 2006, right when the economic recession began. Since then, the event has served as forum to discuss the concerns of the entrepreneurial sector and the economic setbacks taking place on the island. For instance, six years ago, they made emphasis on the importance of entrepreneurship -- as part of the theme developed in collaboration with Babson College.

Now that the credit of the island has been saved and in view of a better performance of the island’s economy, Rodríguez Castro is emphatic on the initiatives that would make feasible a sustainable economic recovery.  

On the other hand, Ferré Rangel mentioned that if there is an indication of “a more palpable improvement” there is also a gap between economic indicators and what people are really experiencing, because job creation as well as available income are trailing behind. “We see growth in our conferences, but there are factors like gas prices, the rise in food prices that affect us adversely. And for that growth to materialize we’re missing something in the return (part of the cycle),” the entrepreneur said.

Ferré Rangel noted that from said perspective it seems essential to include in the debate the role of family businesses in social development, because said business models, many of which meet the same measurement and transparency parameters present in public corporations, become a significant basis for investment and job creation.

For his part, Carlos Ubiñas, head of UBS Puerto Rico, said the event was originally set amid a climate of uncertainty, but now will serve to highlight opportunities for economic development and investment on the island.

Ubiñas added that the event co-sponsored by UBS is “a unique opportunity to continue recovering confidence in the private sector regarding future possibilities of economic development in Puerto Rico.”

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