The Puerto Rico Symposium in Miami With Historic Announcement

 

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The Governor of Puerto Rico Pedro Pierluisi made the historic announcement at The Puerto Rico Symposium in Miami that Puerto Rico was officially out of bankruptcy. The message was well received by over 250 industry leaders from both the public and private sectors.  The event was organized by The Urban Land Institute South East Florida / Caribbean and The Puerto Rico Builders Association.

 

Governor Pedro Pierluisi
Governor Pedro Pierluisi makes historic announcement

 

The Symposium was kicked-off by Scott McLaren, President ULI SE Florida / Caribbean. Scott spoke about the longstanding relationship and collaboration between ULI and the Puerto Rico Builders Association. He highlighted the work on the ULI National Advisory Services Panel on social, economic, and physical resilience in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. https://seflorida.uli.org/toa-baja-puerto-rico-panel/

Scott Maclaren finished his remarks by recognizing  Vanessa de Mari, the new President of the Puerto Rico Builders Association and the first women president in the organization’s 70 year history. The Symposium was dedicated to this historic accomplishment. In attendance were some of Puerto Rico’s top government leaders.  This included the Honorable Pedro Pierluisi, Governor of Puerto Rico, Manuel Laboy, COR3 Executive Director,  Maretzie Diaz, Deputy Director PR Housing Department CDBG-DR, Natalia I. Zequeira, Commissioner of Financial Institutions, and in attendance, the Secretary of Housing of Puerto Rico, William Rodríguez Rodríguez. The keynote address by the Honorable Pedro Pierluisi, Governor of Puerto Rico’s highlighted the island’s economic accomplishments, the end of Puerto Rico’s population exodus, and the conclusion of the bankruptcy which was officially announced the day of the Symposium.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/puerto-rico-is-out-of-bankruptcy-after-a-22-billion-debt-exchange-1.1738142

In the private sector, Ricardo Alvarez-Diaz, CEO, Alvarez-Diaz & Villalon discussed some of progress of the island’s rebuilding after the 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria. The reconstruction of the island was  a constant theme throughout the day with specific examples of over 900 started projects.

The first panel, “Why Puerto Rico: Stories of Success,  was a testament to the resiliency of the development community. Moderated by Andrew Carlson, SVP Country Manager, of JLL the discussion highlighted the historic growth of the island’s hospitality sector with the construction and/or renovation of over 3,000 new room keys from El Conquistador, Grand Reserve (formerly known as Coco Beach), Sheraton, AC , and many others. The panel included Federico Sanchez, President & CEO, Interlink Group.

 

Speakers Panel
Dan Kodsi, Brad Dean, Rafael Rojo, Andrew Carson

 

Dan Kodsi, CEO, Royal Palm Companies, Rafael E. Rojo, President & CEO, VRM Companies. Also in attendance was Brad Dean, CEO, Discover Puerto Rico who highlighted the island’s impressive tourism growth (ADR and occupancy rates) during the Covid 19 pandemic and new expansion of tourism throughout all U.S. feeder markets.

As Puerto Rico seeks to build back its tourism and other industries, the financial sector will invariably play a major role. One of the goals of the Puerto Rico Symposium was to facilitate the conversation of growth in both traditional banking as well as new Fintech, IFEs, and other debt/equity players.  Natalia I. Zequeira, Commissioner of Financial Institutions, explained the ease of regulations and process for new financial institutions as Puerto Rico shares many of the same regulations of the U.S. states on the mainland. Ms. Zequeira also mentioned that International Financial Entities (IFE) can now participate in special opportunity projects.

https://www.investpr.org/key-sectors/finance-and-insurance/

Michael McDonnell, Executive Vice President, First Bank, that recently re-opened its  construction division, was bullish on the island’s economic prospects and announced that the Puerto Rico will achieve positive economic growth (GDP) this year– something it has not done in over a decade.  Banesco USA announced the U.S. Department of the Treasury, will invest more than $8.7 billion through ECIP in institutions across the country – Banesco USA is the only bank recipient located in Florida or Puerto Rico.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/banesco-usa-approved-to-receive-237-5-million-investment-from-the-us-treasurys-emergency-capital-investment-program-301445832.html

Over the last few years, we have all hear about the 80 billion dollars of relief aid that has been allocated to Puerto Rico and is coming. In the “Myth versus Reality panel: Federal Funding Opportunities on The Island,” moderator Ella Woger Nieves of Invest Puerto Rico helped lift-up the proverbial transparency veil. Manuel Laboy, the COR3 Executive Director spoke with detailed facts of the funding by agency with FEMA authorizing 5 billion for temporary work, 21 Billion for 9,000 permanent projects and 800 that are currently under construction today. He also discussed the next wave of over 900 projects that are currently under engineering and design.  Much of this work will be channeled through CDBG-DR and the PR Housing Department. Maretzie Diaz, the Deputy Director PR Housing Department, explained the process for companies wanting to participate in the island’s rebuilding of housing and infrastructure. Mahdu Beriwal, Owner/founder of EIM provided first-hand knowledge of the rebuilding work in Puerto Rico.

 

Adam Greenfader, Ricardo Alvarez-Diaz, Pamela Pautenade, Vanessa de Mari, Alfredo Martinez, Emilion Colon

 

Keynote Speaker Pamela Pautenade, Ex. Deputy Secretary of HUD, was also on hand to share her experiences about the collaboration with the Puerto Rico Builders Association during the 2017 hurricanes crisis. In a moving conversation with Ricardo Alvarez-Diaz, Mrs. Pautenade explained the dedication of the island’s public and private sectors and dispelled any rumors about misuse of relief funds.

 

Keynote Lunch Address
Andrew Farkas, Adam Greenfader

 

Puerto Rico, like much of the Caribbean is in the process of bouncing back from the Covid 19 pandemic.  Adam Greenfader, who chairs the ULI Caribbean Council had a high level sit down conversation with keynote Speaker Andrew Farkas, CEO Island Capital Group. The conversation was focused on social equity and specifically what  role the financial sector has in supporting the region with a particular focus on sustainability, ESG, and helping economic migrants return back to their island homes.

In the last few years Puerto Rico has become known as blockchain capital of the world. While thousands of tech savvy individuals have moved to the island to take advantage of federal tax incentives they have inadvertently created a new economic driver for the Puerto Rico.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-12-11/crypto-rich-are-moving-to-puerto-rico-world-s-new-luxury-tax-haven

 

In our “Fintech & Financial Innovation panel in Puerto Rico, Moderator Nathan Whigham, Founder & President, EN Capital discussed the growth of this huge industry. Rodrick Miller, CEO, Invest Puerto Rico, explained what his group is doing to change the paradigm in Puerto Rico from selling tax incentives to focusing on the island’s quality of labor, education system, and proficiency in bio science and other innovations. Stephen Inglis, CEO, Importal explained his new portal to monetize tax credits and  Yael Tamar, CEO & Co-founder, SolidBlock explained how her company is integrating real estate and blockchain.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/invest-puerto-rico-elevates-the-islands-role-as-a-global-bioscience-rd-and-manufacturing-hub-attracting-two-major-life-critical-investments-228m-in-new-activity-301221471.html

After a marathon day of conversation it was amazing to see the room still full for our last panel “Growth Industries and Tax Incentives” moderated by Carla Campos and an all-star team including  Jorge Ruiz Montilla, McConnel Valdez,  Francisco Luis, of Kevane Grant Thornton and Rogelio “Roy” Carrasquillo, of the Carrasquillo Law Group. In this panel, specific programs like the Tourism Tax Incentive were explained in detail and there was robust conversation regarding how these incentives have created new jobs in manufacturing, life sciences, construction, and agro-science.

 

On behalf of all of us at the Puerto Rico Builders Association and The Urban Land Institute SE Florida/ Caribbean, thank you to all of the people and sponsors that made The Puerto Rico Symposium possible. We are all hopeful that together both the public and private sector can create long lasting sustainable economic growth.

 

 

For more information about investing in Puerto Rico visit our web site or contact us.

AG&T is a real estate development and consulting company founded in 1998 with headquarters in Miami, Florida. Our  track record spans over 55 real estate development projects in Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and various other Caribbean islands.

 

18 Billion For The Next Great Construction Boom

San Juan, Puerto Rico. Last week The Puerto Rico Builders Association held its 70th year conference in San Juan Puerto Rico. The historic event was inaugurated with a conversation on Financing the Next Great Economic Construction Boom.  The panel included Michael McDonald, Executive Vice President and Group Director at Firstbank, Luis Alemañy President and CEO at the Economic Development Bank of Puerto Rico, and Eric Delgado Business Banking Relationship Manager at Acrecent Financial Corporation and Adam Greenfader, Managing Partner at AG&T. It was clear from the conference panelists, that after more than fifteen years of stagnate growth, Puerto Rico appears ready to build back better. Billions of dollars of FEMA and CDBG-DR funds are being allocated in what will be the largest government funding program in US history.  While much of the Federal funds will be used to subsidize projects, the group was in agreement that there is a huge need for private investment and capital to bridge the financing gapMichael McDonald, Executive Vice President and Group Director at Firstbank, made the historic announcement that the bank is opening up its construction division. Several members from the newly formed team were present in the packed room including Carlos Navarro and Mei Li Tsai Rivera. “There is no better indicator of an economy that is ready to grow that when a bank reopens its construction division”, quoted Alfredo Martínez-Álvarez, Jr., Chairman of the Puerto Rico Builders Association. Equally promising, Luis Alemañy President and CEO at the Economic Development Bank of Puerto Rico, was asked about the much awaited CDBG-DR funding. Mr. Alemañy explained that the Economic Development Bank of Puerto Rico has already started allocating over $225 Million dollars to small entrepreneurs. The group was especially receptive to the fact that the grants are being disbursed in $50,000 tranches and does not require repayment. Since 2008, Puerto Rico has gone from twelve financial institutions to less than four. Eric Delgado Business Banking Relationship Manager at Acrecent Financial Corporation, sees a new role for niche lenders filling that gap in Puerto Rico.  He specifically discussed how Acrecent can play a role in funding new construction projects. “We are able to get to funding much faster than traditional banks and also have the capacity for higher loan to coast ratios.  Both Firstbank and Acrecent mentioned that capital is seeking anywhere from 25%-35% of project equity. “As Puerto Rico gets ready to build thousands of much needed homes, critical infrastructure and other key projects, it will be up to both private and public institutions to step up and provide the much needed capital and leadership”, quoted Adam Greenfader of AG&T.  All of the panelist were in agreement that the island in the next few years is ready for strong growth. They specifically mentioned that in addition to the more than 8 billion dollars of Federal Grants, Puerto Rico has one of the most robust tax incentives and credit programs in the world. The hospitality incentive with a 40% tax credit was specifically highlighted as a very strong component of any capital stack today. Helping to plan a better future for the island, The Puerto Rico Builders Association will be holding its annual conference on September 20 and 21, 2022.  Speaking and sponsorship opportunities are available and you may contact AG&T at contact@agandt.com.   AG&T is a real estate development and consulting company founded in 1998 with headquarters in Miami, Florida. Our  track record spans over 55 real estate development projects in Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and various other Caribbean islands.  

Helping Puerto Rico since the 1950’s

Puerto Rico 1950's

70 years ago, when the Puerto Rico Builders Association was formed, the United States was on the brink of entering the World War II. December 7, 1941, would be considered a day that would “live in infamy”. Thousands of Puerto Ricans as American citizens fought in the War and would return home as victors to an island on the precipice of great economic growth.  Thanks in large part to Operation Bootstrap, o “Manos a La Obra”, the Puerto Rico Builder’s Association has played a vital role in shaping the island’s long term economic development. The Puerto Rico Builders Association (formerly known as the Homebuilders Association) was formed in a critical period of time when the island was undergoing a massive transformation from an agricultural society into a leading manufacturing hub.

Puerto Rico would see historic growth for more than three decades and the Puerto Rico Builders Association would play a leading role in shaping the island’s zoning regulations, environmental protections, financing, and building codes (often referred to as a Miami’s building code on steroids).  Puerto Rico benefited greatly from these concerted efforts by the Puerto Rico Builder Association with one of the highest homeownership rates in the Western world at 68%. Puerto Rico is also the second largest public housing jurisdiction in the United States second only to New York City.

In 2015, The Puerto Rico Builders Association, under the leadership of then PR Builders president, Ricardo Alvarez Diaz Villalon joined forces with the Urban Land Institute Southeast Florida/Caribbean District Council. ULI founded around the same time as the PR Builders Association, is one of the oldest and largest networks of real estate and land use experts in the world. ULI’s mission is to shape the future of the building industry and create thriving and sustainable communities around the globe. Shortly thereafter, Puerto Rico was devastated with two back-to-back category five hurricanes.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed most of the island’s electrical infrastructure and informal housing stock at a cost estimated over 100 billion dollars. ULI together with the Puerto Rico Builders Association created a task force to study the effects of the storms and how to build back better. Under then ULI president Greg West, the Puerto Rico Builders Association and ULI convened national panel of experts and created a specific action plan for the municipality of Toa  Baja.

The Puerto Rico Builders Association BoardThe Puerto Rico Builders Association and ULI have since held multiple meetings and conference throughout the years in both Puerto Rico and Miami to explore new areas of synergy and improvements to the island’s build environment. ULI’s current president, Scott McLaren was recently quoted, “we strongly value our long standing partnership with your organization and admire the leaders who go above and beyond, especially when faced with such tremendous obstacles.”

Come celebrate 70 with the Puerto Rico Builders Association Puerto Rico on October 27-29 in San Juan. https://constructorespr.com/convencion-2021/

AG&T is a real estate development and consulting company founded in 1998 with headquarters in Miami, Florida. Our  track record spans over 55 real estate development projects in Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and various other Caribbean islands.

 

 

State of the Caribbean Hotel Market

On Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 10:30am, we held the ULI State of the Caribbean Market Place webinar. The event boasted some of the top industry leaders in finance, brokerage, and development on what’s happening in the Caribbean hotel market. Speakers included Juan Corvinas Solans, Rogerio Basso, Alexandra Lalos, and Christian Charre, and Brad Dean. Moderated by Adam Greenfader.  

 

Critical Manufacturing and Puerto Rico USA

Luis Fortuno and Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez

¨.

The panelists :

 

 

 

The ULI Webinar has an incredible array of information crammed into 90 minutes and it gives a great snapshot for the many initiatives being introduced and planned to help the Puerto Rican economy and create more quality jobs. If I had to some it up in three words, Mo is back. Mo of course being momentum.

 Each of the speakers brought a different perspective. Congresswoman Gonzalez Colon noted her primary mission is the reconstruction of the Island and to shephard the many supporting bills recently introduced in the US Congress. Former Governor Luis Fortuno brought an informed Wash DC think tank perspective, Adam Greenfader is one of Puerto Rico´s most passionate advocates, Andy Carlson of JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle) brings experienced commercial  insights from the world´s second largest public brokerage firm, Dr Deusch stated his case for the reasons he brought his Swiss/German manufacturing business to Puerto Rico because of a need for precision and reliability, while Noel Zamot has a finger on the ethical pulse of developing new business in Puerto Rico.

The conversations were upbeat and positive. For instance, Congresswoman Colon made a presentation on MMEDS which was introduced last month to Congress under the bill H.R. 7527. This bill provides tax incentives and tax credits for companies creating manufacturing plants and jobs in economically distressed areas in the US and its territories. The criteria for distressed is even stricter than the recent Opportunity Zone legislation passed in late 2017. When the Congresswoman showed the MMEDS qualifying maps there were smaller areas in very non desirable locations in the US whereas Puerto Rico literally had a much larger proportional area in some desirable locations. And she stated very clearly that MMEDS is one of the very few legislative items that is drawing bi-partisan support from both sides of the aisle.

The entire panel then weighed in on the competitive advantages that Puerto Rico has when competing with the mainland U.S. including much lower labor costs by as much as 60% lower in some cases, an experienced manufacturing labor force going back 100 years, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez which is a top 10% engineering school for the entire U.S. and which is very much geared to provide the engineering and chemistry talent to support Puerto Rico´s manufacturing base. That even today five of the top ten selling drugs internationally are produced in Puerto Rico and 12 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have plants in Puerto Rico. Luis Fortuno noted that Puerto Rico had more than $40 billion USD in pharmaceutical exports in 2019 but has the capacity to increase this substantially. The panel noted that some closed down plants are almost in turnkey conditions should manufacturers wish to return or expand capacity. It would not take much. Maybe a recession of the Jones Act, or at least an exemption for an extended period of time, might be the necessary catalyst. There are some interesting new developments on this front as was evidenced last week by Hawaii noting that 85% of their informed populace is all for rescinding the Jones Act as it costs that Island 1.2 billion USD in additional transportation and cost of goods fees.

Progress is being made on seeking some type of exemption under the taxing provisions of GILTI as it adds a 10%+ tax on profits for CFCs (controlled foreign corporations) which unfortunately applies to the US territories since the do not fall under the IRC (Internal Revenue Code). On May 1, 2020, Congresswoman Stacey E. Plasket, representing the US Virgin Islands, filed Bill HR 6648 – the Territorial Economic Recovery Act, that if becomes law, it will exclude our territories from much or all of the GILTI taxation, under certain provisions.

On April 3, 2020, Congresswoman Jennifer González, resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico, introduced Bill HR 6643, the Securing National Supply Chain Act of 2020, to provide various tax credits to Economically Distressed Zones, including a tax credit on the amount of wages paid by an employer to employees in such a zone. The proposal has some overlap with HR 7527 noted above.

President Trump’s Special Representative for Puerto Rico’s Disaster Recovery,  Rear Admiral Peter Brown, lead two delegations to Puerto Rico in August 2020, the last visit being last week. I am told the trip was very successful as a big priority was to visit and understand the many advantages of pharmaceutical manufacturing in Puerto Rico.  AG&T is committed to bringing our network top information and access to our industry’s leaders. 

 

Adam Greenfader Named Chairman Florida Puerto Rico Builders Association

Adam Greenfader

 
  San Juan, Puerto Rico Adam Greenfader was recently named Chairman of the Florida Liaison Committee of the Puerto Rico Builders Association (PR Builders Association). For over sixty years, the PR Builders Association has been the island’s leading professional construction and development group. The PR Builders is responsible for government lobbying and networking. The Builders Association consists of high-level professionals in the residential, hospitality, industrial and commercial sectors.

“We are honored to have Adam Greenfader chair this new committee. Mr. Greenfader has been part of our organization for many years, is a tested professional in both markets and has a wealth of knowledge that will be a great asset,” exclaims Arch. Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz, president of the Builders of Puerto Rico.

The Mission of the Florida Liaison Committee is to be a bridge between Florida and Puerto Rico. The goal is to support  builders, bankers, investors and other professionals. The committee aims to facilitate access to services, information, and key contacts. “Our goal is that the PR Builders Association is seen as a first and most important stop for anyone that wants to expand to either market,” says Adam Greenfader. In the last couple of years, with the passing of laws 20 and 22, Puerto Rico has seen a significant increase of interest from companies and individuals from the US mainland. There are also great opportunities for Puerto Rican companies that want to export their services and products, and use Florida as a first stepping-stone. The Florida Liaison team is in the process of developing key stakeholders relationships and organizing its events for 2016 in both Florida and Puerto Rico. If either you or your company is interested in participating, you may contact Mr. Adam Greenfader at adamgreenfader@gmail.com or call the Builders Association at 787.751.1471. Learn more about the Puerto Rico Builders association here.   
  San Juan, Puerto Rico Por más de sesenta años, la Asociación de Constructores ha sido el principal grupo profesional de construcción y desarrollo. Esta organización ha sido responsable de promover el intercambio de información entre desarrolladores, inversionistas, miembros asociados y profesionales, en el desarrollo y la construcción de Puerto Rico. La Asociación de Constructores consiste en profesionales de alto nivel en el sector residencial, hotelero, industrial y comercial.

“Nos sentimos honrados de tener a Adam Greenfader dirigiendo este comité. El Sr. Greenfader ha sido parte de nuestra organización por muchos años, y es un profesional con gran conocimiento de ambos mercados”, indica el Arq. Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz, presidente de la Asociación de Constructores de Hogares.

La misión del Comité de Enlace de la Florida es la de ser un puente entre la Florida y Puerto Rico, apoyando y anudando lazos y relaciones entre constructores, banqueros, inversionistas y otros profesionales en ambos países. El objetivo del comité es facilitar el acceso a servicios, información y contactos claves. “Nuestra meta es que la Asociación de Constructores de Puerto Rico sea vista como el primer y más importante paso para la persona y/o empresa que desee expandir su negocio a cualquiera de estos mercados”, explica Adam Greenfader. Durante los últimos años, Puerto Rico ha visto un aumento significativo en el interés de empresas e individuos del continente de los Estados Unidos con la implementación de las leyes 20 y 22. Existen además, grandes oportunidades para empresas puertorriqueñas que deseen exportar sus servicios y productos. Éstos ven a la Florida como un buen primer paso. El equipo del Comité de Enlace de la Florida está en proceso de desarrollar relaciones profesionales y organizar sus eventos para el 2016 en Florida y Puerto Rico. De estar interesado en ser parte del comité, puede contactar al Sr. Greenfader por correo electrónico adamgreenfader@gmail.com o llamar a la Asociación de Constructores al 787.751.1471.