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Three Candidates, One Goal

Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce presidential hopefuls Marcos Vidal, Manuel Mejia, and Antonio J. Colorado present their work plans


June 24, 2004
Copyright © 2004 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

For the first time in several years, the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce (PRCC) has three candidates for president, one of which will be chosen by PRCC members this weekend during the organization’s annual convention and general assembly at Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa in Fajardo. The three candidates hoping to succeed incoming President Leonardo Cordero are Marcos Vidal, president & CEO of La Cruz Azul de Puerto Rico Inc.; Manuel Mejia, vice president, financial adviser & retirement planning specialist at Morgan Stanley; and Antonio J. Colorado, president of Makro Trading Co.

Marcos Vidal

If elected president of the PRCC, Vidal will focus on dealing with the internal and external issues of the PRCC, including the consolidation of efforts with other business organizations and affiliates.

"We must first evaluate the organization—its internal structure, its budget—to make sure it has the financial strength to meet members’ needs as well as to retain and expand the membership base," Vidal told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. "We must work more closely with affiliate organizations and with our ex-presidents so our voice and presence can be stronger."

Vidal said he would continue PRCC’s three-year strategy so it isn’t changed with the arrival of a new president or board every year, as customarily happens with the change in government administration.

"The strategic plan will serve as our roadmap, one the organization and incoming President Leonardo Cordero will be able to work with to help move the PRCC forward," said Vidal, a former executive at Texaco, Puerto Rican Cement, Cosvi, and Triple-S.

He said the PRCC has to be more proactive and work hand in hand with legislators so the legislation they propose contributes to Puerto Rico’s economic development.

In this era of globalization and free trade, he added, it is important to remain competitive. For Puerto Rico to do so, it must first put the house in order by improving education and cutting down on crime and government red tape.

Manuel Mejia

Mejia’s priorities if elected president will be the continuity of the PRCC’s three-year plan, the development of new industries in Puerto Rico and of incentives to attract these, free-trade agreements, and collaboration with other organizations to help legislators enact laws benefiting the business sector.

"We have to give priority and continuity to PRCC’s three-year strategic plan because it will enhance the organization’s clout, increase the number of members, and provide added value to them," said Mejia, who has been on PRCC’s board since 1998. "As someone who participated in the development of the strategic plan, I, as president, will commit to it and give it continuity."

During the past six years, Mejia has been PRCC’s first vice president and third vice president; has chaired the new membership, bank & finance, and resolutions & statutes committees; and has instituted "Business After Six," a free networking event for PRCC members.

Mejia said we must be more creative in developing and attracting new industries and business opportunities to the island.

"The new business sectors we need to attract to Puerto Rico are in technology, such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, as well as research & development," said Mejia. "These have very high start-up costs and usually don’t see a profit right away. That is why we need the right incentives to attract them."

Mejia said the PRCC has to speak for and act on behalf of the business sector. "We can’t wait until legislators present antibusiness legislation to react. If legislators need our help in submitting proposals, we are completely available to exchange ideas for the benefit of all Puerto Ricans," he said.

Antonio J. Colorado

Colorado, former economic development (Fomento) administrator and resident commissioner during the last administration of Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon, has three priorities if elected president of the PRCC: to strengthen the organization to make it more effective and help it remain the voice of the private sector; to serve as a one-stop shop (centro de gestion unica) for all businesses on the island; and to better educate the people on the proposals presented by legislators and their consequences.

"I want to make the PRCC more efficient and stronger so our presence is felt for the benefit of our members and of Puerto Rico," said Colorado. "The PRCC and other private-sector organizations can do a lot for Puerto Rico."

The PRCC should be the ultimate resource for small businesses, which are the ones suffering the most, said Colorado.

Of the three candidates, Colorado is the only business owner, which he said gives him an advantage over the other two.

"For four years, I have been experiencing the difficulties of starting up a business in Puerto Rico. I have seen firsthand how it is almost impossible to move a business forward here," said Colorado.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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