Entrepreneur Neil Billock to US Businesses: Harness Puerto Rico’s Potential
Neil Billock enjoins US businesses to look southeast toward the island of Puerto Rico and harness its potential as a haven of investment.
The unincorporated US territory has always been overlooked by most American businesses as a potential expansion. A huge factor could be the perceived lack of political and economic stability, in addition to the secession plans of some quarters to free the country from the clutches of the United States.
But Billock said that Puerto Rico remains a strategic component of the US government’s security and economic goals in the Caribbean. America has been reminded of this once again during World War II when planes heading to Italy and the Mediterranean would make Puerto Rico as a pit stop. The economic activities were ramped up after the opening of the Panama Canal, a crucial water route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific.
In fact, he’s putting his money where his mouth is.
In 2016, he moved his family to Dorado, Puerto Rico not just because of the island life but to see for himself all the gaps and the opportunities. He put up a consultancy business which aims to help American corporations that seek to expand their operations offshore.
Although the primary language of Puerto Rico is Spanish, about 20% of the more than 3.3 million people in the island speak English.
Besides, Billock said that there are so many Spanish speakers in the US so it’s easy to cut through the language barrier.
“Our consultancy firm will also help them craft strategies on doing business with Spanish-speaking workforce and customers,” he said.
Puerto Rico’s economy is in a flux and bankruptcy can be an opportunity for some entrepreneurs who are brave enough. The government in San Juan, for instance, dangled some tax holidays to attract foreign investors. Act 20 is the law which enables a company to pay a minimum tax rate of 4% if it hires just one employee, according to an amendment of the law on July 11, 2017.
Billock said that Puerto Rico is also offering zero tax rate on passive income for foreigners who stay at least 183 days in a year on the island. This is a luxury reserved for residents. The government will also waive the capital gains on the assets that are acquired after the transfer.
There are also other financial incentives that American businesses could not enjoy in any of the regions in the United States because of the US Federal Tax Law. Being a commonwealth, it’s free to make its own tax laws.
“For businesses, instability is a concern,” he said. “However, American investors are protected both by the US government and the Puerto Rican government. Banks are under the purview of the US government.”
“It’s really a win-win for businesses. They get a hardworking labor force, business-friendly environment, and the protection of the US federal government,” Billock added. “We can help them set up a business on the island and make the process as painless as possible.”