"In 12 months of the PSD/CDS/PPM Government, there are no new companies in the Terceira Tech Island project, there are companies that decided to abandon the project and companies that had expressed interest in installing themselves were lost due to the Government's inertia in supporting them”, said the PS/Terceira Luís Leal leader.
Launched in 2017 by the PS executive, with the objective of mitigating the impact of the US military reduction at the Lajes base, which eliminated around 400 jobs, the Terceira Tech Island project aimed to create a hub of technology companies on the island.
The Regional Government ensured the payment of short-term training in programming and the cost of rents for the spaces where the companies were installed, with the restoration of the building where the US Air Force school at Lajes base operated for this purpose in the future.
Between 2018 and 2020, more than 20 companies in the digital area set up shop in Praia da Vitória, creating around 170 jobs.
According to Luís Leal, who was a member of the board of directors of the Society for Business Development of the Azores (SDEA), an entity which has since been extinguished by the current Azorean executive, who managed Terceira Tech Island, two companies have already abandoned the project, since the executive of coalition took office in November 2020.
“One of them ran out of resources, the other had to go to another island [São Miguel], it's not clear why. Companies with possible interest to establish themselves were not followed up”, he said.
The socialist leader criticized, above all, the lack of promotion of the project in this year's edition of the Web Summit, in Lisbon, accusing the Azorean executive of “overshadowing potential investors in the technological area with food products”.
“The Azores were present at a fair of a technological nature, but strategically positioned themselves for a gastronomy fair”, he stressed.
According to Luís Leal, the socialist executive put the Azores "on the technological radar", precisely at the Web Summit, where he launched the project with a promotional video, "widely criticised by the PSD", in 2017.
“It is certainly not with agrifood products that we attract technology-based entrepreneurs and investors. This great confusion has left a stain on everything that has been done since 2017 and leaves us, above all, saddened by the inability that this Government has to be able to continue this project, to be able to contribute to generating stable employment and attracting companies”, he stressed.
“If they had given the same level of competition that we had since the beginning, with a growth of 200% per year, in terms of attracting investment, today we would have around 600 jobs created”, he defended.
The PS had already accused, in April, the Regional Government of having abandoned Terceira Tech Island, but the regional secretary for Youth, Professional Qualification and Employment, Duarte Freitas, assured that there was an intention to continue the project.
“What the region intends to do is to continue to attract companies for Terceira Tech Island and naturally with the Praia da Vitória City Council we will have a dialogue, which we hope will be fruitful, to continue this project”, he added at the time.