• The Star Staff

Resident commissioner urges small businesses to claim assistance



By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón stressed the importance of the federal funds she helped obtain for the recovery of small businesses affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria being given to small entrepreneurs, up to a maximum of $50,000 per grant.


“Given the impact of the worst natural disaster that we have experienced in Puerto Rico, we work from the federal capital to simultaneously bring the largest amount of aid ever distributed to the island and ever issued by any federal agency. The $20 billion allocated to Puerto Rico by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is the largest amount of federal funds allocated by this agency,” the resident commissioner said in a written statement.


“The aid that the government of Puerto Rico provides under the Small Business Financing Program is a direct product of these funds,” González Colón added. “This is an important injection for our economy at a time when, due to the pandemic, it is precisely our small merchants that are one of the most affected sectors of our economy.”


The federal Bipartisan Budget Act of February 2018 allocates billions of dollars in federal funds to help the recovery of Puerto Rico. Within HUD, the most important impact program is the Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery.


The previous governor, Ricardo Rosselló Nevares, submitted to HUD his action plan for the recovery of Puerto Rico through the use of these funds, which included a part for economic revitalization, and in this way small merchants can be assigned aid of up to $50,000. Along with HUD Secretary Ben Carson, then-Gov. Rosselló on Sept. 20, 2018 signed the $1.5 billion grant agreement that included the plan for these funds.


From this program, Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced in March of this year that a sum of $225 million was destined to finance the Small Business Financing Program that offers aid of up to $50,000 to cover operational expenses, purchase of mobile equipment or furniture, payroll, utilities, and business rent or mortgage payments.


Recipients of these funds are micro and small businesses that suffered damage as a result of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Businesses impacted by COVID-19 are also eligible as long as they show evidence that they were also damaged by the hurricanes.


The program is managed under the Puerto Rico Department of Housing and the Economic Development Bank.


The Federal Bipartite Budget Law of February 2018, allocates billions of dollars in federal funds to help the recovery of Puerto Rico. Within HUD, the most important impact program is the Block Grant for Community Development.

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