As an early adopter and one of the first business owners to relocate under Puerto Rico’s Acts 20 and 22, I understand the wide range of opinions about these laws. Those of us who have chosen to make Puerto Rico our new home have been celebrated, criticized, thanked, and questioned. Governor Rosselló, himself a believer in the laws, signed legislation in July that makes it easier for both local and international entrepreneurs, innovators and investors to further develop their businesses or relocate to Puerto Rico under these incentives.
Regrettably, the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria leave Act 20/22 in a state of uncertainty. Will current decree holders flee, taking their assets, needed jobs, and resources with them, or will they stay and fight to be part of Puerto Rico’s inevitable renewal and revitalization? Will new applicants get cold feet and abandon the island, or remain steadfast in their commitment to join Puerto Rico’s exciting, dynamic business community? As the recovery begins, I am hopeful that my fellow 20/22 peers choose the path that leads to a stronger, flourishing Puerto Rico, but I cannot answer these questions or make decisions for anyone other than myself. My commitment to this island was clear to me before Maria hit and I am even more steadfast now.
The morning before Hurricane Maria was scheduled to make landfall, I was in Los Angeles preparing to demo the latest technological advances in equipment for a new health and wellness business in Hato Rey that was set to open this fall. Understandably, my family and friends were relieved that I was on the west coast, instead of in the crosshairs of one of the worst storms in the history of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico.
To say the least, I was unsettled. Even hours before landfall, news reports showed several trajectories, and one worst case scenario. Once I realized that Maria was going to be much worse than Irma, I caught the first flight home to Puerto Rico. Despite the uncertainty and dangers associated with such a powerful storm, and over the objections of my colleagues, friends, and family, I needed to go home to help my employees, friends, neighbors and my community. Why? Because my life, my heart, and my future are in Puerto Rico. On that flight home, I made myself a promise:
If the worst occurs, I will be part of Puerto Rico’s economic renewal. I will contribute finances, materials, time, and energy to make Puerto Rico better than it was.
I will support my employees’ and vendors’ ability to provide for their families. I will not undertake measures such as mass layoffs or workforce reductions on the heels of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
I pledge to help Puerto Rico as much as Puerto Rico (and its people, and its culture) has helped me.
I challenge all Act 20/22 beneficiaries to join me in this commitment to Puerto Rico.
I further challenge my Act 20/22 colleagues to open their wallets and contribute to Puerto Rico’s economic recovery. I have mobilized my personal foundation, the Mark E. Curry Family Foundation, to operate as a distribution and funding hub for important community groups in Puerto Rico. Donors in Puerto Rico and the mainland may contribute to this tax-deductible fund, which is committed to supporting very meaningful charities on the ground in Puerto Rico. I am personally matching the first $200,000 in donations, and those interested can donate at www.mecff.org.
I believe Act 20/22 participants have a moral and ethical imperative to lead recovery efforts, assist our neighbors, and open our wallets. Puerto Rico is strong and proud; but we will be weak and shameful if we turn our backs on our neighbors when they need us the most.
*Please visit the Mark E. Curry Family Foundation (mecff.org) to help Puerto Ricans impacted by Hurricane Maria. Mark E. Curry is a leading entrepreneur, philanthropist and impact investor. Curry founded SOL Partners in Puerto Rico in 2012, and in January 2017 completed acquisition of NotiCel.