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Puerto Rico Grabs The Spotlight At USHCC Convention

Joint effort by private and public sector pays off as local businesses participate in procurement and trade opportunities, promote export


November 30, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The Puerto Rico delegation to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s (USHCC) annual convention, placed the island in the spotlight during the five-day event held in Washington, D.C. last month.

The delegation, headed by the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce and its president, Luis Torres Llompart, was composed of government representatives and private sector PRCC members who joined forces to help introduce and acquaint local businesses to procurement and trade opportunities beyond the island’s borders, as well as to promote export.

Local government agencies that participated in this year’s USHCC convention included the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co., the Commerce Development Administration, the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, the Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., and Promoexport.

According to Llompart, the 60-member delegation, the convention’s largest, made quite an impact on other participants.

"One of our goals was to break the misconception that Puerto Rico is only a tourist destination, not a place to do business," said Llompart, "and to achieve that we used a more aggressive approach by having a larger delegation and presence."

For the first time, Puerto Rico had its own pavilion at the USHCC convention, which highlighted the island’s industries–pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, communications, science and technology, banking, agriculture, tourism–presenting, as Llombart described it, a dynamic Puerto Rico.

The government of Puerto Rico foot the bill, in part, for the pavilion, contributing $30,000 and manpower so that local businesses could participate without having to pay.

The PRCC was responsible for getting the pavilion set up, and for advertising and marketing strategies, in addition to manpower, contributing $10,000. The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau also chipped in with $10,000. Total investment in the pavilion topped $100,000, noted Llompart.

Another goal of the PRCC during the USHCC convention was to provide an opportunity for local businesses to make themselves known in the Hispanic market, to allow them to participate in the procurement process, and to develop more business with Puerto Rico.

"More than 80% of the island’s exports are from non-local businesses using non-local capital," said Llompart. "We need to get local businesses involved in exporting, because those are the one’s that remain here."

From the Puerto Rico delegation, there are several participants who are already doing business with new contacts while others are in the developing stages, thanks to their participation in the convention, noted Llompart. Their success will stimulate more local businesses into exporting.

"To invest $100,000 for an event like this is nothing if we take into account its short and long-term benefits," said Lompart. "With few resources, we were able to do a lot."

The success experienced by the local delegation at the USHCC convention would not have been possible without the government’s help and support, added Llompart.

Puerto Rico’s participation in the USHCC convention was necessary due to the great importance that big, multi- national companies are giving to the Hispanic market, Llompart explained.

"Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the U.S.," he said. "The big companies know where they need to go to invest. Puerto Rico businesses must get in the boat now if they want to benefit from it."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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