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U.S. Rep. González promotes economic development opportunities for Puerto Rico

By on March 1, 2019

SAN JUAN – U.S. Congresswoman Jenniffer González Colón served as a keynote speaker at the Minority Enterprise Development Week’s summit of the Puerto Rico Minority Business Development Agency Center, where she discussed economic development, business incentives and the progress of the island’s recovery from the 2017 hurricane season.
Besides recognizing minority businesspeople at the event, González highlighted the “Economic Development Act for Distressed Zones,” a new bill to attract private investment to economically disadvantaged areas to foster “their prosperity and economic stability” through the implementation of strategic plans for their development.


The bill recognizes an economically disadvantaged zone as one whose poverty level is of no less than 35%. The designation of a disadvantaged zone after presenting the request by a state or local government, together with the fiscal or strategic plan for the development of the area is in the hands of the secretaries of Treasury and Commerce and would be valid for 10 years from the effective date of the law and could be extended for 15 years.

The legislation proposes that the incentive to do business in economically disadvantaged areas would be a credit on taxes imposed in an amount equal to 40% of the employer’s investment in employee salaries and complementary benefits, depreciation and amortization within the area; business-to-business for purchases of goods from businesses operated by minorities within the area (30% for businesses not operated by minorities)

At the event, the congresswoman also highlighted the inclusion of Puerto Rico in the Opportunity Zones program as part of the Federal Tax Reform of 2017. She said it represents Puerto Ricoc not being subject to the 25% cap in the number of census tract areas that may be nominated as Opportunity Zones within the mainland jurisdictions and the qualifying zones under the program.

The operations in an Opportunity Zone include hotels and other companies directly related to tourism, agricultural sector development, service to facilities and shopping centers, as well as high-tech, research and manufacturing companies.

González touted that among her efforts to promote the local economy at a federal level, is an appointment of an officer established in Puerto Rico to meet the claims of local merchants, that the requirements for federal contracting discriminate against Puerto Rico.

The appointment comes after negotiations since early 2017 and meetings with Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, including her visit to Puerto Rico in June 2017.

The congresswoman also highlighted the approval of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, which includes provisions that benefit small businesses in Puerto Rico, such as granting preference to businesses with main offices on the island with regard to the granting of federal contracts. Likewise, it prioritizes local businesses for the transfer of surplus property, as well as provides an incentive for large firms to subcontract small businesses on the island.

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