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School’s Thought Leaders in Puerto Rico to Share Insights on Role of Education, Entrepreneurship and Exports in Driving Growth in the Americas

April 07, 2011
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A better educated workforce, strong support for new venture growth, and a focus on exports will be required for Puerto Rico and nations across the Americas to prosper in the global economy. That was the key message from the dozens of business, government and academic thought leaders participating in Puerto Rico’s “E³ Summit of the Americas 2011,” co-hosted by the School of Business and the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce April 7.

dean  

 Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, the School's interim
 dean, delivering a keynote address at the e3 Summit

“Globalization makes it very clear that the United States must continue to increase educational opportunities to remain competitive,” said Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, the School’s interim dean, in a keynote address during the conference.

“Across the Americas, we must increase the number of students who graduate from college to ensure that we have the skilled workforce we need to remain competitive,” she added, noting that the U.S. ranks ninth in the world in college graduation rates.

“As countries throughout the Americas work to compete on the global stage, all must make the required investment in education.”

Sevilla-Sacasa went on to outline some of the School’s efforts to strengthen education through innovative initiatives such as the FIRST Step program, in which all freshman work with a community organization for an entire semester; its new cross-disciplinary programs in such areas as health sector management; and the student-led Jamaica Project, which has helped dozens of women who run small businesses in rural Jamaica gain new business skills.

Other keynote speakers at the conference included the governor of Puerto Rico, Luis G. Fortuño-Burset, and Thomas J. Donohue, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as the School’s Ken Colwell, the director of entrepreneurship programs, and Joseph Ganitsky, a research professor and the director of UM’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).

Colwell’s presentation focused on the role of entrepreneurship in job growth and economic development. He noted that as government leaders look for solutions, they overstate the true impact of start-up businesses in job growth.

“Entrepreneurial activity does not necessarily create jobs,” said Colwell. “An increase in outsourcing of manufacturing… and an increase in telecommunications technology has meant that start-up firms don’t have to hire [many] people so they don’t. So you can’t look just to start-ups in terms of creating new jobs.”

faculty

  Faculty members Ken Colwell (right) and Joseph Ganitsky (center)
  speak during a break with Carlos de Jesus, a student in the School's
  Puerto Rico Executive MBA program, who also attended the conference

                  

Colwell also pointed out that the jobs small businesses do create are often low-wage and service positions.

“Ultimately, economic development has to be based on production, not consumption,” he said, adding that in order to achieve sustained economic development, government leaders must identify their region’s unique resources and capabilities, find the sectors they can exploit and then promote clusters or hubs in these areas.

Ganitsky, in his conference remarks, pointed to exports as an integral piece of the economic development equation for the region.  He noted that to take advantage of export opportunities, the region must understand how the international trade landscape has changed.

“The opportunities are much, much greater nowadays in the emerging markets, than in the developed markets,” said Ganitsky. “The developed markets are mature and very competitive, but the opportunities are boundless in the rest of the world.”

governor

 Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa with Puerto Rico
 Governor Luis G. Fortuño-Burset, who was also a
 keynote speaker at the conference

                 
                        

Ganitsky added that opportunities for Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Latin America will result from significant changes in the hemisphere’s international trade relationships.

“It used to be that the relationship was between the north and the south, in trade,” he said. “And now, there are tremendous opportunities with south to south relations.”

The E³ Summit of the Americas was the main event of Puerto Rico’s Exports Week. It was the second conference this year that the School hosted with the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, following the Puerto Rico Health & Insurance Conference in February.

The School has offered an Executive MBA program in Puerto Rico since 2009 and has established custom executive education programs for a number of leading firms on the Caribbean island.

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