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PRMA Strives To Be Local Manufacturing Business Broker

Cidre outlines tried & true private sector vision; decries collective inertia that hampers efforts to promote globally


October 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

A main component of Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association (PRMA) President Manuel Cidre’s strategy for the next two years is to become the island’s manufacturing business promotion broker.

Citing what he describes as a collective inertia that has taken over the island’s manufacturing sector, Cidre is determined to refocus the government’s and the private sector’s contributions.

"It is impossible to develop a country’s economy if there is a collective inertia keeping it from moving forward," said Cidre. "I believe this exists not only in the public sector but in the private sector as well. Slowly but surely, bureaucracy has been invading not only the government but also the private sector, and it must end."

Cidre’s strategic plan for the next two years involves the transformation of Puerto Rico’s manufacturing industry. To accomplish this, He insists the island should not count on the competitive advantage it had in the 1970s. New efforts to attract new industries and create local companies must be made to ensure the island’s sustainable economic development.

To start, Cidre wants the PRMA to become the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (Pridco) business promotion broker. Just last week, Pridco Assistant Secretary for Strategic Projects Edgardo Torres traveled to the U.S. mainland to meet with several U.S. and foreign business brokers.

"Why should someone come from outside Puerto Rico to promote our manufacturing industry?" asked Cidre. "Every day, a number of local executives of multinational companies in Puerto Rico battle with their headquarters to bring new products to the island. They do so because if they don’t, other countries will aggressively compete to take away the projects. This would mean that manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico could close down, costing thousands of jobs," said Cidre.

"Pridco must adopt the styles used successfully by our own companies to promote the manufacturing industry. It must ask and learn from the local industry how to attract a product to the island. And it must also learn to replicate that effort and work efficiently. PRMA can be what Pridco needs at this moment–a much better alternative than hiring an outside broker," said Cidre.

For several years, organizations such as the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce have tried to reach similar agreements with Pridco about handling the agency’s promotional efforts. Cidre believes PRMA is ready to implement the best promotional strategy, backed up by its more than 1,800 members.

Other items on the agenda

"There is no space for so many associations in Puerto Rico. One of my goals is to make other groups aware of this problem," said Cidre. "Then we can evaluate what and where the synergies and strengths of each group are and how they can be merged. But I am aware that being in the limelight is the order of the day in Puerto Rico, although that sometimes makes the difference between winning and losing."

The PRMA president is also aware that old habits in government die hard. One issue Cidre is ardently proposing for discussion is a reduction of the government’s work force. "We need to tell the government that it needs to develop an open policy that will strengthen the private sector. In turn, by creating and increasing private-sector ventures, the number of government employees could be reduced," he said.

According to Cidre, government agencies should evaluate their core necessities and determine what they require to sustain their administrative operations. He said that a comparison of private-sector companies and government agencies’ administrative operations showed the private sector to be more financially efficient. (Puerto Rico State Insurance Fund statistics indicate that private- and public-sector premiums can vary by as much as $0.26, or a savings of $0.08 on every $1 spent in the private sector compared with $0.34 on every $1 in the public sector.)

Another option Cidre sees for achieving fiscal savings would be to identify special services in government agencies and give them the opportunity to form private ventures. For example, employees working for government agencies with large security or housekeeping components could be trained to run their own private-sector security or housekeeping businesses.

"I am not an enemy of the labor movement. But we need to set aside political considerations and join our efforts to transform our economy, reducing the welfare culture based on government benefits," said Cidre.

Cidre would also like to turn the island’s food stamps into a system that complements a citizen’s cost of living. Instead of arbitrarily setting amounts for the unemployed and for the handicapped, the government could require able-bodied individuals to do community work for a number of hours, according to their needs.

"The PRMA has to be more creative and innovative, marketing its services to a member that deserves to be seen as a valuable asset," said Cidre. "This is why the organization will continue strengthening its services–services that our membership requires."

PRMA strategies for 2002-03

  1. Identify and develop Puerto Rico’s manufacturing industry by stimulating and promoting new business in the food and construction sectors.
  2. Develop and provide quality services to our membership according to the individual needs of each person.
  3. Initiate and develop proactive positions that represent the PRMA and its membership in public forums and adopt community projects as an entity.
  4. Establish the PRMA website as a tool for its membership.
  5. Promote Puerto Rico’s manufacturing industry through the private sector.
  6. Promote and establish science & technology as the tool that moves Puerto Rico’s new economic development.
  7. Align the PRMA’s internal organization with these strategies.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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