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  • The San Juan Daily Star

$125 million went to SMEs via financing program

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, along with Economic Development Bank (EDB) President Luis Alemañy González and Housing (DH) Secretary William Rodríguez Rodríguez, announced on Monday the closure of the Small Business Financing program through which a total of $125 million in grants were delivered to small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) throughout the island using funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program.

“Today is another day in which, as a government, we highlight our support for the development and growth of our small businesses that are the backbone of our Puerto Rican economy,” Alemañy González said. “In the face of the historic challenges we have experienced in recent years, our local entrepreneurs have shown great fortitude and resilience. We are celebrating the achievements of the Small Business Financing Program (SBF), administered by the Economic Development Bank as a sub-recipient of CDBG-DR funds. This program began by providing an allocation of up to $50,000 and we increased it to $150,000, to maximize assistance to micro and small businesses of 75 or fewer employees who suffered damage or loss after the 2017 hurricanes.”

“After that initial phase of the Recovery Grant, the SBF program offered them the opportunity to apply for flexible loans to further promote their economic recovery,” he added.

The EDB is the general manager of the SBF program through a subrecipient agreement with the island Housing Department. The EDB is responsible for managing all major aspects of the program, such as conducting CDBG-DR compliance assessments and admissions and eligibility assessments, implementing financial management and compliance reports, and carrying out calculations of granting and design agendas.

The Housing secretary noted that, as defined by the CDBG-DR program, microenterprises are those companies that have five or fewer employees, which includes their owner or owners. The microenterprises line also may include an autonomous person. In addition, small businesses are defined as enterprises with 75 or fewer employees.

“As part of the requirements, applicants submitted evidence of damage or disruption to their business in the wake of the 2017 hurricanes, as well as an unmet need for recovery and growth, or an unmet need for low- or moderate-income job creation and retention,” Rodríguez added.

The governor reiterated his administration’s commitment to continue supporting small entrepreneurs, as the spearhead of Puerto Rico’s recovery.

“It is indisputable that our economy is showing clear signs of recovery in all areas, with growth in our gross domestic product, increases in manufacturing rates, historic declines in unemployment, increases in labor participation and reduction in poverty rates,” Pierluisi said. “Undoubtedly, we have sought to support our SMEs because they are the ones who represent the most productive sector of our economy, and who employ a large part of our workforce. My administration has a great commitment to our SMEs and we continuously look for ways to give them a hand so that they can continue to grow and progress.”

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