News & Events

Cybersecurity training program…coming soon!

Add your name here to get updates on our cyber training program!

The world is changing rapidly and so is the job market.  We’ve tried to stay ahead of the curve by helping our members and other interested parties stay informed of job opportunities in the booming technology sector and will continue to do so in the future. 

However, we recognize that right now one of the greatest opportunities for the advancement of our people, both on the island and throughout the mainland U.S., is to obtain and grow skills in the high demand field of cybersecurity.

 

Did you know that more than 200,000 jobs went unfilled in cybersecurity last year in the U.S. alone, which has grown to more than 1 million jobs worldwide!  Companies and governments alike need motivated, skilled individuals in this sector, and they’re willing to pay very well to find the talent they need. –Justin Vélez-Hagan, Executive Director

 

What’s more, although a background in computer science or engineering is beneficial, there are a number of certificate or other career training opportunities that do not require a background in computers, nor even a bachelor’s degree.

To do our part and advance career and employment opportunities, we are creating a program in conjunction with the University of Puerto Rico and other private parties to put together a world-class, in-class and distance-learning (online) certificate and advanced training facility that will connect you with the high-demand, high-paying jobs that you want and deserve.  

upr_logoInteresting in joining us?  Send us an email to Cyber@NPRChamber.org, or add your name to our list here, and we’ll get you connected to our continuously updated resources and opportunities.  

Connecting YOU with Jobs in STEM

 

It’s a fact:  the highest paid, fastest growing jobs are all in careers related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers.  Perhaps you already know this and have the skills that so many employers across the country are looking for, or perhaps you are simply interested in getting connected with a job in a career field that you know has a future.  We’re here to help!

It’s been a tough decade or so for Puerto Ricans.  That’s why we’ve dedicated some of our resources to partner with UNFOILED to connect you with many employers across the U.S. who are looking to diversify their workforces, while taking advantage of the amazing talent that comes out of Puerto Rico (or is already located within our communities throughout the country).   

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Whether you have a career in medical, engineering, computer science, information technology, cyber, research, development, internet marketing, or more, or want to switch to a growing, high-paid field, we suggest you join our growing database so employers can find you. 

Our partners are among the top companies in tech, healthcare, engineering, consulting, and more and are looking for your talent.  All you have to do is fill out the form at the following link and we’ll handle the rest.  Perhaps you are the perfect fit for an open position with one of our employer partners today!  

 

NPRChamber Appears on BBC & other Int’l News

In light of the enactment of Congress’ PROMESA bill, along with the Puerto Rican government’s decision to default on $2 billion dollars in debt payments due on July 1st, several national and international news networks invited the NPRChamber to provide insight and technical expertise into the significance of both to the U.S., Americans on the island, and investors across the country and the world.  

Our Executive Director, Justin Vélez-Hagan, joined the BBC and CCTV America on the day of the payment default and provided expert commentary on the implications of both, as well as his opinion on where Puerto Rico is headed from here.  Although we do not have links to the commentary, below you can find several pictures of our participation.

Through our advocacy efforts, we will continue to seek opportunities to discuss the importance of policies that impact our island and our people everywhere, ensuring that others have the opportunity to influence their legislators to enact or influence policies for the betterment of us all.  

CCTV America

NPRChamber BBC 7-1-16

 

NPRChamber Appears on Fox News to Discuss the “Puerto Rican Vote”

See full segment here.

We’re not always interested in getting into the “political weeds” (in fact, part of our mission is to remain as non-partisan as possible!), but when we had the chance to discuss the impact of our brethren’s voting interests on the nation’s elections — we had to accept.  

Too often our country’s citizens concede that “our vote doesn’t matter.”  It’s especially easy to think this way if you happen to live in Puerto Rico, where, despite being a U.S. citizen, you can’t even vote for the President in a general election.  Despite being a veteran of Afghanistan, our founder often bemoans the fact that if he moved to the island, he wouldn’t even be allowed to vote for the next commander-in-chief.

This year is just a little different.  Puerto Rico has been making headline news for its fiscal crisis, but is finally making headline news for its political prowess and potential influence on national elections.  With nearly a million voters in the swing state of Florida, Puerto Ricans now have an opportunity to make their voices heard, both on the island and where they may choose to reside across the U.S.

Click here to view the full segment, but keep this in mind during this very important election year:  YOUR VOTE REALLY DOES MATTER!

http://video.foxnews.com/v/4789189885001/puerto-rico-results-could-have-a-big-impact-in-florida-/?#sp=show-clips

FREE Book on Basic Economics for New Member/Donors

Donate (and get your free copy) here.

Hey, who doesn’t like free stuff?  Well, we sure do and we like to give it away too.  Well, mostly, we want to show our gratitude to our gracious donors in the upcoming holiday season, so . . .

For a very limited time, we are giving away a signed copy of our founder/Executive Director’s new book The Common Sense behind Basic Economics: A guide for budding economists, students, and voters.   Velez-Hagan Hi res cover image

The book aims to educate voters on the importance of understanding basic economics and related policies currently being debated in Washington and how they impact the entire country, with a humorous tone catered towards younger voters, especially within the Millennial generation. 

Chapter topics include explanations of the national debt, common economic myths, Federal Reserve policy, the importance of entrepreneurship, the reasons why the U.S. is a global economic leader, among others, along with a number of policy discussions related to current events such as the fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico.

“Economics doesn’t have to be boring, or all about complicated math equations.  It can be fun and something we want to be a part of.  It’s especially important with upcoming elections to have a basic understanding of the proposals of those seeking our vote,” said NPRChamber founder Justin Vélez-Hagan.

“Hispanics are disproportionately uninvolved in economics and young people are especially turned off when our leaders don’t explain policies in common sense and easy-to-understand language.  I hope to even the playing field with this book.  No more letting things slide because we don’t understand what’s going on. It’s time we do.”

Although available at national retailers online, Vélez-Hagan is donating signed copies of his book to all new NPRChamber member/donors.  More info available here:  http://nprchamber.org/membership-services/.  

Not only do the books make great, educational Christmas gifts, but your gift is tax deductible!  Win-win-win!!  iWepa!

NPRChamber Meets with US Treasury Secretary to Discuss Puerto Rico Fiscal Crisis

Pdf of the official press release can be found here.  CapitalWirePR’s online version can be found here.  Official Treasury Department summary here.

Washington, D.C., October 20, 2015 – The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce (NPRChamber), along with several other national organizations, participated in a round table discussion yesterday with US Treasury Secretary Lew in order to consider possible solutions to the fiscal crisis facing the island of Puerto Rico. 

The private, off-the-record discussion was intended to bring together leaders in the Hispanic community, government, and labor, along with other thought leaders and experts in economics, government finance and debt, and fiscal crises in order to propose a path forward that the President’s Administration, along with the Congress, can implement in order to assist Puerto Rico in a recovery.

“Although some of the details of the meeting cannot be discussed at this time, it’s important to note that nothing was off the table.  Healthcare, taxes, direct financial assistance, chapter 9 bankruptcy, maritime laws, government debt and liquidity, and business certainty and investment were among the many topics discussed, and numerous solutions were considered,” said Justin Vélez-Hagan, representing NPRChamber at the meeting.

“It was my intention to discover whether the Treasury had the authority and will to assist Puerto Rico.  Although it may have limited authority, and politics may prevent some actions, it’s clear that the Treasury does have the interest to provide assistance as it can, yet some of its own considerations are limited due to politics or legal limitations.  However, if Puerto Rico is seeking help outside of the island, a significant portion of it will likely have to come from the legislative branch,” he continued.

Representing the President’s Administration were Secretary Lew, National Economic Council Director Jeffrey Zientz, and other White House officials.  Besides the NPRChamber, other groups in attendance included the Brookings Institution, LULAC, the Urban Institute, the National Puerto Rican Coalition (NPRC), LCLAA, the Hispanic Federation, AFL-CIO, Estudio Tecnicos, and PRLDEF, among others, as well as several well-known legal and economic scholars.  The Treasury Department is expected to provide an official release of the details of the discussion in the coming days.

About The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce

The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce (NPRChamber) is a non-profit organization created to promote entrepreneurship and economic development throughout the U.S.  Feel free to contact the NPRChamber via email:  PublicRelations@NPRChamber.org.

New Charity to Educate Hispanic Entrepreneurs/Veterans

For official CapitalWirePR press release, click here.  

Washington, D.C., October 15, 2015 – The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce (NPRChamber) officially launched a 501(c)3 public charity this month in order to expand its mission of educating entrepreneurs and veterans on the basics of entrepreneurship.

Although its mission has long been to support economic development, including the promotion of entrepreneurship throughout the U.S. mainland and in Puerto Rico, the high demand for the NPRChamber’s recently launched educational series serving Puerto Ricans, other minorities, and Hispanic veterans around the U.S. has led to the need for the new charitable arm. 

“Given the economic concerns of Puerto Ricans within Puerto Rico, as well as those who feel they have no choice but to leave the island, there have been few times in history that have seen a greater need for resources, tools, and educational opportunities that can help others create their own businesses, support our communities, and help grow our economy,” said Justin Vélez-Hagan, executive director and founder of the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce. 

“As a 501(c)6 chamber of commerce, we were able to organize and support small business interests throughout the U.S.  However, by establishing a charitable component, we will be able to offer more of the educational services that so many need across the country, especially within the growing Puerto Rican diaspora as well as those who remain on our beloved island.”

NPRChamber will launch a new series of entrepreneurship webinars to combine with an expansion of its local workshop series and annual Hispanic Veteran Entrepreneurship Training (HVET) program beginning in early 2016.  For more information on the location and dates of upcoming events, please email Info@NPRChamber.org.  To make a tax-deductible contribution, please visit www.NPRChamber.org/donate.

 

NPRChamber Statement on Puerto Rico’s Economy

Washington, D.C. – Over the past week, significant newsworthy events related to Puerto Rico have included statements made by fiscal administrators suggesting that the government can no longer afford to continue making payments on its outstanding loans.  In addition, a government-sanctioned report, known to many as the “Krueger Report,” described many of the reasons that its authors believe have led to Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis, as well as provided recommendations for policies to change the island’s future economic trajectory.

In addition to re-obtaining “institutional credibility,” as noted in Krueger, NPRChamber’s recommendations continue to include 1) shifting long-term and current tax and other incentives to focus on investments that directly encourage the hiring of more Puerto Rican citizens; 2) investing in the expansion of primary through post-secondary education to create more human capital; 3) further streamlining island-wide bureaucracies that impede entrepreneurial development; 4) shifting from targeted hiring credits to emphasizing sectoral job training programs; 5) adjusting public assistance programs to ensure that reservation wages do not depress job creation and labor participation; 6) making a quick and permanent status decision; among others.

Federal legislators can also provide support for the island by reconsidering laws that impede Puerto Rico’s economic welfare, as well as offer other forms of direct assistance that do not impose additional burdens on other U.S. citizens.  For example, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (known more commonly as the “Jones Act”) has increased the costs that Puerto Rican citizens and businesses must pay for imported goods.  Congress should reexamine whether its benefit to the U.S. mainland economy outweighs the detrimental impact on Puerto Rico’s.

Because Puerto Rico lacks a number of fiscal policy tools (as well as any control over monetary policy) that its international competitors still retain, Congress should consider affording Puerto Rico the opportunity to renegotiate its existing debt load by passing legislation similar to H.R. 870, which is now under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives and will be presented soon in the Senate.  Similar legislation will allow the island to undergo a court-monitored debt restructure if it can prove that it legitimately lacks the resources and ability to repay current obligations.

Although there are many more specific suggestions that can be made, it is of utmost importance that island legislators make the changes necessary today to ensure that long-term indebtedness does not continue, that legislators do not feel compelled to continue advancing outdated and burdensome policies, and that its citizens are provided an equal chance at future economic success that is given to others who invest on the island, or other American citizens located throughout the U.S.

For a more detailed analysis of Puerto Rico’s recent economic history, please see our 2015 report entitled, “Puerto Rico’s Economy: A brief history of reforms from the 1980s to today and policy recommendations for the future,” as well as some of the commentary provided by our Executive Director here, here, or here.  

Feel free to contact us anytime: Economy@NPRChamber.org.

Promoting Small Business in Orlando

The following is a press release highlighting our recent, successful event in Orlando.  More to come, thanks to our generous supporter:

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NPRChamber Promotes Small Business Resources for Veterans on Armed Forces Day

Washington, D.C., May 26, 2015 – On Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 16th, The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce (NPRChamber), in partnership with the Libre Initiative and Credit Junction, co-hosted a seminar for veterans interested in small business.  The event was held at the University of Central Florida and kicked off a series of national events catering to the needs of Hispanic veterans.

The veterans’ small business seminar was created to offer resources to the growing number of veterans interested in entrepreneurship.  “These men and women have so much to offer, have given so much, and want to start a business. But sometimes they just lack the knowledge of how to start one, or are even unsure of what they can do given their skillsets,” said JustinVélez-Hagan, Executive Director of the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce.

The event followed the university’s annual 5k to benefit veterans, and began with a panel of experts from the Small Business Administration (SBA), Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and Credit Junction who offered advice on the number of government resources available to help start and finance a new business.  A group of experts from SCORE, Florida Angel Nexus, Enterprise Florida, as well as successful local entrepreneurs and an expert in alternative forms of financing provided the crowd of veterans and local leaders with an introduction to the wide variety of community resources available. 

Following the seminar, local leaders, including city Commissioner Tony Ortiz, himself a veteran of the Marine Corps who moved to Orlando from Puerto Rico at an early age, read a special message from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and provided his own thoughts on the importance of helping those who sacrificed for the rest of us.  “As a marine, I know the sacrifice you’ve all paid and I thank you for your service to this great country.  Now, it’s time we served you,” said Commissioner Ortiz.

The successful event connected local and national finance and small business leaders with the community, lending to the mission of the NPRChamber to support entrepreneurial development.  Future events are currently being planned for Northern Virginia, Charlotte, and Miami.

 

About The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce

The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce (NPRChamber) is a non-profit organization created to promote entrepreneurship and economic development amongst Hispanics and Puerto Ricans throughout the U.S.  Feel free to contact the NPRChamber via email:  PublicRelations@NPRChamber.org.

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Panel of experts including reps from SCORE, Rutgers, Florida Angel Nexus, and the DeSoto Group.

Executive Director Justin Velez-Hagan addressing crowd of veterans.

With Orlando City Commissioner Tony Ortiz.

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Left to Right: Justin Velez-Hagan, ED NPRChamber, Nicole Baltazar, Director of Operations NPRChamber, Sergio Rodriguera, CEO Credit Junction

Our Founder Remembers Memorial Day in Afghanistan

Memorial Day is a great way to celebrate the kickoff to the summer, time off from work with friends, and maybe even a BBQ or two.  But lest we forget the reason behind this holiday, we thought it prudent to repost an older, but excellent piece by our Executive Director on the “personal battles, victories, enemy attacks, fallen buddies, and an eventual homecoming” that every veteran experiences.   Enjoy!  (Warning: It’s a tear jerker!)

Originally published by NBCLatino here.  

justin-going-home-11-1-12

Memorial Day last year wasn’t the same as I remember growing up:  There were no backyard BBQs. There was no salsa music. There were no pool parties, or girls to chase.

Last year, my reserve unit and I took a “less traditional” vacation from work. Instead of packing up for a picnic, we packed our bags for Kandahar, Afghanistan, a place better known for relentless dust, open sewage (there is a literal “poop pond” on base), incomparable noise, and rocket attacks.

I’ll never forget my first night at war. There was no sleep that night. The first time I drifted off for a moment, I awoke to a barrage of artillery fire, gun ships,  attack sirens, and helicopters hovering so closely overhead that it shook the walls of my six-man bunk. I was hoping it was a nightmare.

“We’re under attack? I just got here!” Not this time…just training. I wasn’t sure my heartbeat would ever slow.

It did slow, however, as I became accustomed to the sounds of war. I even forgot about the constant 110-degree heat (FYI sewage smells worse as it heats), made hotter by full combat gear, and an M16 that I had to carry everywhere (yes, everywhere).

There is one thing I didn’t get used to, however. No matter how much we pretended to not let it bother us, I never got used to death.

Army Staff Sergeant Israel Nuanes provided my first introduction to this side of war. I was only in the country a few days, when his name came across my desk. Part of my job was to ensure the safe transport of the remains of my fallen brothers back to their final resting place stateside.

SSgt. Nuanes was killed by an IED on May 12, 2012. Rest in peace my brother. I will never forget you.

He was just the first of nearly 100 airmen, marines, seamen, and soldiers I personally had to send home after their premature deaths last year. At the time, I tried not to think too deeply about the task, but it was heartbreaking every time.

Every time one of our troops died, we would perform our best impromptu ceremony to pay our respects. At a minimum, a few of us would line up and salute our fallen brother as he was transferred to the aircraft that would carry him home. Sometimes hundreds of us would come out and shed a tear together. Some of the toughest, best trained, Special Forces war-fighters I ever met cried as much as anyone. Any one of us could have been lying in that coffin. This could have been me.

The best I could muster was a prayer and a kiss to the American Flag-adorned metal “transfer case” or body bag. I always tried to save my tears for later, but there’s something about seeing a typically-unemotional trained killer sob that can cause anyone to choke up.

Death was nearly an everyday part of life in Kandahar. We never got used to it and tried our best not to let it affect the mission.

Justin meeting his daughter for the first time on November 5, 2012. (Courtesy Justin Vélez-Hagan)Surprisingly, the threat of our own death was often the least of our worries. We all had issues at home. Some had sick family members; some had relationship or financial problems. Over the course of a few short weeks, four of my brothers’ wives had children. They weren’t allowed to help their wives through the birth, to cut the umbilical chord, hear their child’s first cry, or see their first smile.

I was one of them. My little girl was born on August 26, on what I call the worst and best day of my life. I felt horrible not being able to be there, but was ecstatic to know she was alive and well and that I would see her beautiful face one day. When I finally did, amongst the fanfare of friends, family, and strangers in the middle of a public airport, it made it all worth it.

(Justin meeting his daughter for the first time on November 5, 2012.)

Although that short tour in Afghanistan produced some of the most tragic and beautiful moments of my life, they were but brief, typical moments in the chaos of war. Every one of us has a story of personal battles, victories, enemy attacks, fallen buddies, and an eventual homecoming.

Rest assured, Memorial Day will be just a little different for me this year. I’ll remember that I was one of the lucky ones able to come home to hold my daughter for the first time. I will forever use the memories of SSgt. Nuanes, and the thousands of others who have died with him, to remind myself how sweet and valuable life really is and how great it is to have the freedom to enjoy it.

Justin Vélez-Hagan is a Staff Sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and the Executive Director of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at JustinV@NPRChamber.org or @JVelezHagan.

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