WEPZA recognizes the achievements of the following individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the success of special economic zones.
Dick Bolin was a central figure in the development of export processing zones. While working with A.D. Little, he led "Operation Bootstrap," which established the world's first export processing zone in Puerto Rico (1957–61). Subsequently, he created the "maquiladora" export factories in Mexico and throughout Central America from 1961 to 1974. His work on these projects is credited with generating over 1,400,000 new export jobs in 3,700 companies.
After his formal "retirement," Dick's tireless work and advocacy for free zones continued. Through his company, International Parks, Inc., he helped establish industrial parks all over the world. He created the first research institute dedicated to studying free zones, the Flagstaff Institute. He also established the world's first trade association of free zones, WEPZA, under the auspices of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. Read more about WEPZA's founding here.
Dick passed away in 2013, though the organization he founded lives on and continues to promote the development of zones globally. Read Dick's obituary.
Peter Francis Ryan
While working with the newly formed United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Peter Ryan helped establish WEPZA in 1976 and was instrumental in bringing forty countries on as members. Peter also helped negotiate UN and World Bank contracts for the development of free zones and himself managed the construction of zones in approximately 15 countries.
Aside from these accomplishments, Peter has also had a productive career orchestrating numerous investment-promotion development programs in the Middle East, Russia Latin America, and the Carribean. He served in the UK's Royal Air Service, formed businesses as a mechanical engineer, and held diplomatic posts.
Peter and his family currently live in Kent, England, where he has been writing books about his varied experiences.
Kürşad was the Minister of State of Turkey from 2002 to 2009, during which time he also served as Director of WEPZA. Throughout his career, he has championed free trade zones as vehicles for promoting economic development. After starting in the Turkish State Planning Organization in 1981, he was promoted to General Director of Free Zones in the Undersecretariat of Foreign Trade in 1991. Over the next decade, he climbed to the position of Undersecretary of Foreign Trade by 1999. After being elected to the Turkish Parliament in 2002, he was named State Minister and continued developing Turkey's Free Zone program in that capacity. In 2003, he was selected "Minister of the Year." Kürşad's membership on the WEPZA board began in 1995 and served instrumental roles until 2011.