Keep an Eye on Tech to Foster Growth in Puerto Rico
With so much attention in the news about worrisome events, it's easy to forget there's plenty of good news to go around, too. This is especially true in Puerto Rico. The positive trend in tech services employment is one example that deserves the spotlight. This sector has been increasing since 2001 and even continued to do so after the economic downturn in 2007. Technology continues to evolve, and with that comes a demand for talented employees and a well-trained workforce.
Puerto Rico has strong engineering programs that are teaching students new, innovative techniques that can be implemented in existing companies or leveraged for start-ups. The island's well-educated workforce is not only bilingual, but also known for its high productivity and work ethic; therefore, it's important for the island's economy that this talent doesn't emigrate.
Thankfully, growing opportunities in tech services mean a growing need for service providers. This tech growth helps keep the highly qualified talent that exists in Puerto Rico employed and on the island. Even during the recent workforce reduction period in Puerto Rico, the increase in tech jobs has helped keep overall employment afloat, as well as helped promote investment and innovation.
Some of the reasons Puerto Rico's tech industry has experienced growth are due to the island's need to innovate, government incentives and reforms that enable tech companies to grow, and local groups that aim to improve tech-readiness and entrepreneurship. Some of these groups include Parallel18, which was founded by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, and Grupo Guayacán, both of which I work with and support.
Groups like Parallel18 work to position Puerto Rico as a unique hub for start-ups and innovative technology while helping young entrepreneurs through mentoring, acceleration programs, and grants. Similarly, Grupo Guayacán aims to improve Puerto Rico's entrepreneurial ecosystem through a series of programs and private equity investment.
According to Estudios Técnicos Economist Kevin González Toro, this increase in technology in Puerto Rico has the potential to provide greater access to information, more power to citizens, and a gateway for collaboration.
Technology is not only ever-changing, but also changing the island of Puerto Rico in more ways than one. Whether it be through an increase in employment, promoting investment, or encouraging innovation, technology is making a difference. Puerto Rico is in a unique position when it comes to tech, and I encourage the government and private sector to coalesce around these trends with smart public policies and investments that will maximize tech's potential. After all, tech is a trend that's here to stay.
How do you think technology can solve some of Puerto Rico's most fundamental challenges?
*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. As Chair of the Mark E. Curry Family Foundation, he invests in critical community charitable organizations.