Hispanic Heritage Month: Central Florida Latinos working to grow economic ties with Puerto Rico

ORLANDO, Fla. — Central Florida’s ties to Puerto Rico are strong, and now, local advocates are working hard to make the two strategic business partners.

The goal is to help contribute to long-term growth for both economies.

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“Right now, the partnership that we have with Puerto Rico is extremely important for economic growth and professional growth as well,” said Gaby Ortigoni, President and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando.

Ortigoni recently returned from Puerto Rico after spending several days meeting with political figures and business leaders on the island. The hope is that more Puerto Rican businesses see opportunity in Central Florida and expand to the area.

“We definitely want to be able to serve as a bridge and be able to help them grow even more,” Ortigoni said of the chamber’s role in the process.

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Global Mattress, for example, is a business that started in Puerto Rico before expanding to Central Florida, bringing jobs and a boost to the local economy.

“The success that we have seen is that it’s helping businesses be able to expand in a sustainable way,” Ortigoni said.

Ortigoni says it works both ways, with Central Florida businesses exploring opportunities to grow in Puerto Rico, especially with ongoing recovery efforts underway after hurricanes and earthquakes in recent years.

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“So there will be a lot of construction. There will be a lot of the purchases of a lot of materials that, right now, they may not have enough on the islands,” Ortigoni said. “So that’s why, for us, developing the relationships with the leadership in different parts of the island, again, business owners, but also government, is so critical.”

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