Puerto Rico is an attractive destination for investment, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said Thursday at the start of a conference organized by his administration in partnership with hedge fund billionaire John Paulson and Opal Financial Group.

The island's unique status as a U.S. commonwealth with its own tax code allows its government to provide "special treatment" for firms that establish operations here, the governor said in a speech to open the 2014 Puerto Rico Investment Summit.

The two-day gathering at a San Juan resort is the largest event of its kind in Puerto Rico's history.

The message from Garcia Padilla and Paulson, whose New York-based company has stakes in several luxury hotel projects on the island, is that after more than seven years of recession, the Puerto Rican economy is at an ideal inflection point for investment-led growth.

Garcia Padilla cited recent investments in Puerto Rico by Paulson & Co., drug giant Eli Lilly and Lufthansa Technik, the maintenance and repair unit of the German airline.

Investors can have confidence in the island's economic stability, the governor said, after noting that last month's successful $3.5 billion bond issue provided Puerto Rico with sufficient liquidity to service its massive public debt.

"We proved that Puerto Rico is not Detroit, it's not Greece," Garcia Padilla said. "We proved that Puerto Rico is not heading to a default on its obligation, but to a fiscal and economic recovery."

EFE