New Jersey Tech Council Has Its Eye on Post-Embargo Cuba

The technology trade group plans to take at least half a dozen executives from the state to Cuba, with the goal of eventually taking advantage of the country's business opportunities.

A little less than 1,300 miles separate New Jersey from Cuba, but with a new association endeavor, that distance could get a little smaller.

Recently, the New Jersey Tech Council (NJTC) announced it would plan a trip connecting at least half a dozen business leaders from the state with potential tech opportunities in the Caribbean country, which had, until recently, been subject to a U.S. economic embargo. One in the process of thawing.

While the trip already includes seven business leaders, the tech council hopes to get even more executives on the plane before it leaves in April.

“The more leaders we have, the better,” NJTC President and CEO James Barrood told NJ Biz. “The group could be as big as 20-30 people. We have no qualms about having more people. And if not on this trip, on future trips.”

Due to the effects of the economic embargo, Cuba’s infrastructure leaves much open to improvement, something New Jersey and other states can help with by offering assistance with the country’s electrical grid and telecommunications infrastructure. Barrood noted, however, that the country is highly educated, especially when it comes to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics topics.

Barrood explained that he first came up with the trip idea about a year ago before the diplomatic thaw begin—and before he took his current role with NJTC. But while the council is ready to help, it doesn’t want to force anything along.

“We want to be respectful of the pace [Cuban officials] want to take,” Barrood told the business news site. “It is still a very controlled country.”

The council wouldn’t be alone in taking advantage of economic opportunity in Cuba. A number of associations and trade groups have already talked about expanding economic initiatives into the country or exporting products that have traditionally fallen under the embargo, such as cigars.

Earlier this week, a major tech firm, Netflix, announced it would be expanding into the Cuban market. (Although, the fact that the country’s infrastructure is somewhat limited and that most Cuban citizens don’t own credit cards pose issues.)


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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