After learning of the decision to close Roche Puerto Rico, the secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC), Manuel Laboy Rivera, activated the resources of the agency he directs to address the situation and offer the staff the necessary guidance in the process job transition, as well as the search for a new tenant for the facilities located in Ponce, announced in a press release.
“We are very sorry for this news, as Roche has a history with Puerto Rico of almost 50 years. Although the closure will take place gradually and is expected to culminate in the third quarter of next year, our staff from the Labor Development Program (PDL) is in talks with the company to coordinate the services of the State Unit for Displaced Workers and Employers (UETDP) of PDL of DDEC, to guide approximately 200 workers in the transition process in search of new job opportunities. Despite the challenges of the past years, the manufacturing sector in Puerto Rico has managed to stay strong, thanks to the multiple expansions that we have announced since 2017, and the arrival of several companies on the island. In December 2019, employment in this sector reached 75,300, which represents the highest figure since 2014. On the other hand, and despite the COVID crisis, we anticipate that Puerto Rico will continue on the path of growth in manufacturing , bio-pharmaceuticals, medical devices and aerospace, both due to expansions that we are supporting, as well as the arrival of new companies that have already shown interest in investing in the Island, thanks to the support of the Federal Government and the management of Invest Puerto Rico . Our commitment is to continue with these efforts and achieve a new upturn in various economic sectors that have been impacted by the pandemic, ”said Laboy Rivera, who highlighted that after the visit he received last week by White House officials, There is already interest from various investors to settle on the Island.
As confirmed by Edna Jiménez, general manager of the operations in Ponce, where glucose test strips are manufactured, after an exhaustive evaluation the decision was made according to the market need to streamline operations and optimize the global manufacturing configuration, in particular in the material produced on the Island, going from 3 to 2 global manufacturing plants. Production will be transferred to existing manufacturing plants in Indianapolis, United States, and Mannheim, Germany.
“We are very grateful to our team and appreciate the achievements made at our Ponce plant, which has supported the manufacture of Roche Diabetes Care blood glucose test strips for almost five decades. We are committed to supporting all employees during the transition phase, as well as finding new employment. To this end, we look forward to working closely with the DDEC and other relevant stakeholders in Puerto Rico, ”said Jiménez.
Laboy Rivera, assured that the DDEC will maintain a direct and regular dialogue, both with local management, as well as with corporate officials.
“Although we understand the reasons for the corporation to consolidate the manufacture of test strips for glucose measurement in Indianapolis, in the US and Mannheim, in Germany, the truth is that Puerto Rico has the necessary qualities to achieve that other products and / or technologies can be manufactured in our Island in a competitive way. We are going to take the necessary steps to examine this possibility, ”Laboy Rivera concluded.