Puerto Rico gov’t provides free work space to affected SMEs after María
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Economic Development and Commerce Department (DDEC by its Spanish initials) will provide coworking space for the small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) affected by Hurricane María, Secretary Manuel Laboy announced Friday.
He said entrepreneurs interested in the initiative may visit the CoLabs network spaces starting Monday.
The first spaces available are at the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. and the Science, Technology and Research Trust in Río Piedras; Selfee and Piloto 151 in Santurce; Engine-4 and La Colmena in Bayamón; Vitec in Mayagüez; and Oceana Hub Center in Caguas.
Employers may use the spaces provided for three hours a day, for a period of three months. The DDEC official recommends those interested in taking advantage of the benefit call their chosen place ahead of time to reserve their space for that day because it is limited.
“They should mention they are part of the DDEC initiative and sign a coworking-space code of conduct release; evidence of being an entrepreneur won’t need to be presented,” he explained, adding that there will be 10 to 30 seats available to work at each of those facilities.
Laboy also indicated that the initiative, which is backed by the Special Fund for Economic Development, will last three months but could be extended “if we see entrepreneurs need it for a longer period.”
“We understand the importance of keeping the business sector active. With them in mind, we developed the CoLabs initiative, so SMEs from all regions of Puerto Rico that don’t have basic services to operate can do so in these coworking spaces,” said the official, who highlighted that the effort arose out of a multisectorial desire to support entrepreneurs.
Universities join effort
The DDEC secretary said Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, Universidad Interamericana, University of Puerto Rico’s Ponce campus and Universidad del Turabo in Caguas will also open work space for businesspeople and students next week.
Laboy explained that coworking spaces are a global trend within the business ecosystem that gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to interact with colleagues, exchange ideas and increase the possibility of doing new business.
“We’re sure this effort will be joined by more entities, universities and agencies with space available for the business community, because we know it is essential for entrepreneurs to operate their businesses, employ, invest and explore new opportunities to reactivate the economy,” Laboy added.
With the initiative, the agency is also promoting the long-term use of coworking spaces to entrepreneurs who may opt to use them after the free-use period concludes.