• The Star Staff

Gov’t urges local business owners to request disaster relief aid ‘to promote economic growth’

Programs using federal CDBG-DR funds can ‘increase job opportunities,’ governor says

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Monday that owners of small and midsize businesses are still on time to apply to two financial aid programs that use Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funds and whose purpose is “to promote economic growth.”

During a press conference at La Fortaleza after a meeting with the Social Welfare Task Force, Pierluisi said the Economic Development Bank, which is under the Puerto Rico Housing Department, has $225 million remaining in the program to finance small and medium-sized enterprises that were affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The governor said enterprises could obtain up to $50,000 in direct subsidies and, currently, around $17 million has been obligated for 300 small businesses.

Pierluisi said candidates have until April 3 to file a request with the financing program.

“I want to bring to the attention of the people the efforts that the [designated] secretary of Housing [William Rodríguez Rodríguez] has been making to ensure that mayors have access to this program, particularly to revitalize their urban centers, because the revitalization of urban centers is also of great help to all commerce in Puerto Rico and that economic activity we all wish for,” Pierluisi said. “I am sure this program would be of great help for either enterprises or microenterprises to increase the job opportunities that could be provided for the people.”

Meanwhile, the governor said the second financial aid resource, the Economic Development Investment Program, has around $800 million to provide “loans with low-interest ratings, long-term payments” that could go up to $50 million to “cover commercial development, mixed uses, and infrastructure expenses.”

“This program is focused on promoting economic revitalization in all of Puerto Rico,” Pierluisi said. “Once again, I am urging people, businesses and industries of all kinds to take advantage of these investment programs that the Housing Department has under CDBG-DR.”

The governor said business owners must submit a general description of the project they intend to start, its preliminary budget, and other required information to the agency. The Housing Department will allocate the amount of the loan “after it analyzes the spectrum of proposals that are eligible to be awarded these incentives.”

Rodríguez said the department’s CDBG-DR division would be working along with the Department of Economic Development and Commerce and the Reconstruction Council, established in Executive Order-2021-011, to “evaluate every project to conduct well-planned economic development considering the different aid programs available in Puerto Rico.”

The island Housing secretary-designate added that it is preferable to submit projects that “are ready to begin working and only require funding to take action.”

He said those interested can access www.cdbg-dr.pr.gov for more information and have until April 5 to file a request.

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