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If the biggest event in recent Puerto Rico history was 2017’s Hurricane Maria, which cost the lives of more than three thousand people and left $50 billion in damage, the second biggest, may well be this month’s triumphant production of Hamilton, the smash Broadway musical, at the Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré in San Juan, which has been brought to the island by American Express.
Hamilton’s creator, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda, comes from Puerto Rico and has been an outspoken advocate for the island during its recovery from Maria.
Last year he announced that he would reprise his performance as Alexander Hamilton in a three-week run raising money for Puerto Rican arts organizations. Tickets have not only been impossible to come by; the production has brought journalists and U.S. politicians to the island in numbers not seen since the storm.
For Puerto Rico’s still recovering economy, the attention could not be more timely. In 2017, American Express partnered with Miranda with the goal of “aiding local businesses in Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” according to Amy Marino, vice-president of Global Experiential Marketing and Talent Management at American Express.
Since then, American Express has committed nearly $2 million to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and mainland U.S. in the form of shelter and food as well as sustainable small business growth, which the company sees as key to the region.
“Small businesses are the backbones of our communities and what help to make them so unique,” said Marino. “New data released by American Express in November found that an average of 67 cents spent at small businesses stays in the local community. For a traveler exploring Puerto Rico for the first time, we feel it’s important to get out and shop and dine small as the island is back and open for business.”
Miranda, who has been an American Express cardmember since 1996 (when he was all of sixteen), has spoken repeatedly of his passion for small business and recently appeared in two tv commercials devoted to “Shop Small,” American Express' 9-year-old campaign to bring business to local merchants.
“It was clear from our very first meeting with Lin-Manuel that our values of building enduring relationships and supporting communities are deeply aligned with his own,” said Marino.