• The San Juan Daily Star

SBA chief visits PR to discuss needs of small businesses

Isabella Casillas Guzmán, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia met with the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Isabella Casillas Guzmán, on Monday as part of her visit during National Small Business Week.

“I thank Administrator Casillas Guzmán for her visit to Puerto Rico at a time when our nation faces unprecedented challenges as a result of the effects of COVID-19 on the economy,” the governor said at a press conference. “SBA has supported our management and has played a central role during the recovery of small businesses that have been affected by the pandemic.”

As part of her agenda, the administrator met with Pierluisi and his economic cabinet, which includes Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Cidre, Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority Executive Director Omar Marrero and Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés.

During the meeting, the island officials discussed with Casillas Guzmán the economic realities of the pandemic and the impact of the Payroll Protection Program, the Closed Operators Subsidy, and the Aid Fund to Restaurants.

They also discussed the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for the island’s businesses. Emphasis was given to redirecting the EIDL to expand the program and reduce delays in the processing of documents in order to meet the needs of small businesses. Prioritizing the fight against common fraud scenarios, focusing on high-risk areas and proactive risk management, and opportunities for the economic development of Puerto Rico were also discussed.

“As we move forward, we must redouble our efforts to increase support for small businesses, as well as the use of the EIDL program, since Puerto Rico has more than 40,000 small businesses that are the backbone of our economy,” the governor said. “I will continue working with the administrator as we continue to face this pandemic economic reality and its impact on the island.”

Casillas Guzmán said “it is inspiring to hear firsthand from small business owners in Puerto Rico who have worked hard to adapt and survive while facing uncertainty and difficulties during COVID-19.”

“I am proud of the work that the SBA does to provide assistance to small businesses in Puerto Rico and I want to thank Gov. Pierluisi for his collaboration as we work together to build a better Puerto Rico,” she said.

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