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Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro encouraged economic development and small business growth during key leader engagements in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Feb. 7.
Secretary Del Toro met with Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico Lt. Governor Omar Marrero, and Puerto Rico Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce Manuel Cidre, emphasizing the Department of the Navy’s commitment to Puerto Rico small business development and engagement.
“A healthy, diverse industrial base made up of companies of all sizes is absolutely crucial to the success of our Navy, our Marine Corps, and our national economy,” said Secretary Del Toro. “I’m spending two days in Puerto Rico to see how we can continue to build and grow our relationships and economies.”
Secretary Del Toro also participated in two small business roundtables: a U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency Business Roundtable and a Joint U.S. Department of Defense and Navy Business Roundtable.
“I'd like to have more small businesses, not to meet some quota, but because it is good for our economy, for the health of our national security and economic security for the country,” said Secretary Del Toro. “I know that small businesses and medium sized businesses here in Puerto Rico may not have been able to compete at an equal level. We need to break down those barriers so you have opportunities within our marketplace. That is my goal.”
“The mission of MBDA is to provide business development service delivery that supports the growth and global competitiveness of minority-owned businesses. The agency was a lead collaborator with the Department of Navy (DON), Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) and the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce for today’s programming, including two business roundtables that were led by Secretary Carlos Del Toro. The mission was to demonstrate a whole of government approach to helping Puerto Rico small businesses to learn more about opportunities for doing business with the DON and Federal government and leveraging MBDA Business Center, Capital Readiness Program and other Department of Commerce resources available on the Island of Puerto Rico,” said Joann J. Hill, Senior Advisor and Director, Office of Customer Experience.
The DON OSBP Acting Deputy Director, Alyse Bullock, shared information on “How to Do Business with the DON.” She encouraged businesses in attendance to visit the DON long range acquisition estimates to learn about forecasted opportunities and address questions. In addition, she shared best practices for how to leverage the Seaport NxG, Best in Class during the business roundtable and the various DON contract types including fixed price, cost reimbursement, award fee, incentive fee, and labor hour. She also shared the importance of growing the DON industrial base by disaggregating large contracts to create opportunities for small business and Rule of Two.
Secretary Del Toro also met with the U.S. Department of Defense Manufacturing Technology Program Leading Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), a Detroit-based Department of Defense national manufacturing innovation institute. DOD recently expanded its institute operations to Puerto Rico to begin technology and development operations in support of the Island’s manufacturing base and workforce. The institute, a nonprofit public-private partnership between industry, academia, and government, is supported by $1.9 million in funding from the Department of Defense Manufacturing Technology Program. LIFT has begun convening local stakeholders to further assess how it can meet the innovation needs of the Island’s manufacturers as well as prepare the workforce to work in the advanced manufacturing sector. Recently, DoD announced a $1 million award for manufacturing ecosystem development in Puerto Rico.
Secretary Del Toro’s visit to Puerto Rico is the second leg of travel related to small business development and a national call to service. He will also participate in a Puerto Rican Veterans commemoration and will honor Puerto Rican Veterans. He will also visit the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico San Juan to learn about students’ interests in entrepreneurship and STEM.
Prior to visiting Puerto Rico, Secretary Del Toro attended the National 8(a) Association Small Business Conference, where he delivered remarks and hosted a business roundtable with small businesses from various industry sectors seeking to learn more about doing business with the DON.
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