On Friday May 12, 2017, the eighth annual
Puerto Rican Summit was held at the DoubleTree Hilton at Seaworld. The
Summit hosted speakers and guests from all regions of Florida, Washington DC,
New York and Puerto Rico. The Summit featured four workshops and a
Business Luncheon entitled “Florida – Puerto Rico: Two Markets that Work
for You”. As in past years, Dynamic Community Development Corporation
(CDC), a 501 (c) 3 community and economic development corporation, was the
principal sponsor and organizer of the event.
The Summit is held annually in Central Florida. In 2014, Florida’s Puerto Rican population surpassed the one million mark. Since then, the state’s Puerto Rican community has continued to grow, with Central Florida as the destination of for the many new residents arriving from the Island.
On Thursday evening, May 11th, a special VIP Reception honoring sponsors and members of the Summit Organizing Committee, was held with the sponsorship of Rums of Puerto Rico and Boricua & Taino Beers. The newly elected Florida State Senator Hon. Victor Torres was acknowledged, and Mr. Brendan Ramirez, Executive Director of Pan American Behavioral Services of Florida, received a special award for the annual support of the Summit.
Friday May 12th began with “Café con Leche with your Legislators” – a meeting with local federal and state legislators. Present were: US Congressman Hon. Darren Soto, Hon. Victor Torres, FL State Senator; and Florida State Representatives Hon. Amy Mercado, Hon. John Cortes, and Hon. Carlos Guillermo-Smith. These lawmakers discussed issues of importance to the Central Florida community, especially the bills presented during the most recent Florida State Legislative session.
The second workshop “Increasing Entrepreneurship in our Community” was presented in partnership with the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA). It began with Opening Remarks by Mr. Jose E. Ramos, SBA Senior Area Manager, who provided an overview of SBA activities and programs. The panel moderator was Mr. Gilbert Colon, SBA Deputy District Director for North and Central Florida, who interviewed four entrepreneurs who achieved business growth and success through participation in SBA’s 8a program - a program designed to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal marketplace. The discussion centered on encouraging business people to “think big” and to seek to qualify for SBA business programs. (see picture for panel members)
The third panel “Healthcare & Community Development” was moderated by Mr. Eduardo Arroyo, President, Arroyo & Associates, San Juan, Puerto Rico. The panel members discussed the important roles their organizations play in supporting ongoing physical and mental community health care initiatives, as well as their work following the Pulse Night Club shooting in June 2016. On this panel were: Mr. Brendan Ramirez, Executive Director, Pan American Behavioral Services of Florida; Ms. Stephanie Pineiro, Community Health Manager, Proyecto Somos Orlando, Hispanic Federation; Ms. Norma Asencio, East Florida Sales Manager, Wellcare Health Plans; and Ms. Gaby Ortigoni, Regional Vice President, PROSPERA.
Pic 1 L-R : Luis DeRosa; FL State Senator Victor Torres; FL
House Representative John Cortes; Norma Asencio, East Florida Sales Manager
Wellcare Health Plans; Puerto Rico Senator Carmelo Rios-Santiago; and US
Congressman Darren Soto.
Standing L-R: Hon. Tony Ortiz, Commissioner, City of Orlando; Hon. Wanda Rentas, Commissioner, City of Kissimmee; Luis De Rosa; Hon. Darren Soto, US Congressman; Olga Aymat, News Anchor, Telemundo
Sitting L-R: Julio R. Benitez-Torres Esq., Deputy Secretary, Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (PRIDCO); Hon. Carmelo J. Rios Santiago, Senator, Majority Speaker, Puerto Rico Senate; David Rodriguez-Ortiz, President, Cámara de Comercio de Puerto Rico, San Juan; Carlos Mercader, Esq.; Executive Director, PRFAA, Washington D.C..