Seven steps to invigorate the Puerto Rican economy

Seven sided mandalaThe Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce (PRCC) is already in the planning stages or the, now annual, event to promote investment in Puerto Rico. The next event will be February 20th, 2008 in the hotel Ritz-Carlton Spa & Casino in Isla Verde. In addition, they have announced a list of seven steps that they believe will invigorate the Puerto Rico economy.

Sometimes, mi gente, I get to thinking that I must be insane. I mean I'm just a simple computer programmer, I don't understand complex topics like economic development, investment, or finance. That stuff just never came up when I was studying Assembler. But when I read "The Seven Steps" I had to conclude that whoever was behind "The Steps" doesn't know much about it either. Which leads me to conclude that this is the Chamber of Commerce, they should know something about business, right? Right? Oh man, we are so totally screwed; things are much worse than you or I could ever imagine.

This list is nothing but dreams, written as unactionable, feel good, sentiments. I mean develop a mission and vision statement is going to invigorate the economy, pardon my French, but give me a fucking break. I know that a powerful mission and vision can provide a beacon to guide our economy, but we have such fundamental, profound, and seemingly unsolvable problems that words will no longer suffice. If anything it is the anchor which drags us down. For we have an over tendency to talk, complain, and criticize and an alarming tendency to not take any action.

But what I really read, if you ask me, is a prominent leadership body that is scared shitless about rocking the boat. They are willing to take this low risk position, in the face of huge challenges, so that the leadership of that body can remain in place. I believe that they think by playing it safe, they are in the clear. In the words of one of my heroes Seth Godin: "Safe is risky!" Just read this quote by Bartolomé Gamundi, President of the PRCC:

“No podemos perder la confianza en la economía de Puerto Rico ni en su fuerza trabajadora. Aunque la Isla está pasando momentos difíciles, no está vacío del capital intelectual.”
Have you ever noticed that people have a strong tendency to negate what the believe most, especially if they can not honestly say what they believe. He is saying that we can't lose trust in the economy, although, I bet the PRCC has. He is right about one thing though, I don't think we lack the intellectual capital, what we lack is the moral fortitude (courage) to talk straight, make tough decisions, and accept the consequences that result.

I actually agree with some of these ideas, we need more innovation, we need a bigger private sector, and we need more social responsibility. As a society we need many things, but as I mentioned it's easy to come up with ideas. It's a lot harder to put those ideas into action. And that's the main problem with these steps, they are just so fluffy and light. There is no meat to them, just how are we going to accomplish these steps? One of the biggest misunderstandings about entrepreneurship is that ideas are hard. Coming up with ideas is not hard, execution is hard.

If I had to put a title on this list, I'd say it more represented the seven ideals behind jump starting the Puerto Rican economy. Then from these ideals we need a list of actions, not goals, that identify the specific things we must do. Here is my seven steps:
  1. Implement the unicameral referendum that was already approved.
  2. Eliminate the payroll of the government by half. All agencies must equally reduce.
  3. Create tax free incentives for all businesses that establish new operations on the island.
  4. Streamline new business permissions and eliminate unnecessary fees.
  5. Centralize all municipal governments to 6 regional governments.
  6. Establish incentives for all local companies to invest 10% of profits into research and development, which could include angel investment. Punish those that don't comply.
  7. Create a privately run tourism company to manage the promotion, construction, and assessment of Puerto Rico tourism. The plan of action would be to create a call to action to stimulate tourism, to include these actions:
    • eliminate vehicular traffic from Old San Juan (OSJ);
    • establish an mandatory inspection office for merchants in OSJ;
    • create an incentive for new tourism businesses that create tourist attractions (think Orlando, Las Vegas, Gatlinburg);
    • obtain 25 additional blue flag certifications for our beaches.
But like I said, I'm just a simple computer programmer, so I'll leave this whole economic invigoration to the Chamber of Commerce. So sit back and imagine if you will seeing a commercial announcing the Chamber of Commerce's "Seven Steps"...

[Fade in of a loving scene between a boy and his young puppy, and fade out]

[Fade in of a merchant behind his Plaza del Mercado store and then cue a muted version of the Puerto Rican anthem mixed over some salsa music. Fade out of plaza]

[Music builds and fade in a patriotic scene of proud government workers hard at work in a public street, and fade out]

[Fade in a long string of pictures of the beautiful scenes of Puerto Rico, like El Yunque, El Morro, Luquillo Beach, etc...and fade out]

[Finally fade in the following text and have it scroll up from the bottom of the screen and off the top]

[Text follows...]
Siete pasos para vigorizar la economía:
1- Expandir la innovación y la oportunidad de participar en la "economía de las batas blancas", las ciencias vivas, la biotecnología y el estudio científico, a la vez que se promueve una transición de una economía dependiente en la manufactura a una en la que también se desarrollen las áreas de finanzas, seguros y el desarrollo en tecnología y conocimiento.

2- Redactar un nuevo contrato social para que el mundo del trabajo tome en cuenta los valores familiares, que estimule un ambiente de trabajo justo y flexible, promueva la alta productividad y que sea sensible a las necesidades de las familias y de las mujeres.

3- Motivar el capitalismo con valores basados en la responsabilidad social.

4- Restaurar la confianza al convertir al Gobierno en un instrumento de interés público que atienda efectivamente las necesidades del país y de su gente.

5- Propiciar un sector privado más grande, activo y emprendedor, capaz de ser un motor de crecimiento para el país y en la búsqueda de oportunidades fuera de Puerto Rico.

6- Desarrollar una misión de país basada en el desarrollo integral de nuestra economía y sus componentes y que incentive la participación activa de todos sus ciudadanos, para que actúen a su vez como embajadores de su país.

7- Desarrollar la visión de país del Puerto Rico que debemos construir.
Fuente: Cámara de Comercio de Puerto Rico
[Fade in the seal of the Chamber of Commerce and leave until commercial ends]

Now repeat this ad nauseum until a patriotic tear comes to your eye, then shut off the TV and go shopping at Macys.

Flickr Creative Commons Contributor Today: fdecomite