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First $50,000 Small Business Financing program grants awarded

By on June 29, 2020


SAN JUAN – Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced awarded Monday the first $50,000 grant as part of the Small Business Financing (SBF) program.

The program is financed with funds allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and is in the “Recovery Grants phase (grants awards of up to $50,000) for working capital and moveable equipment for small businesses and microenterprises that suffered physical and/or financial losses” due to the hurricanes of 2017, Irma and Maria.

Startups created after the hurricanes are also eligible if they can show their creation was the result of a closure of a previous business after damages caused by the hurricanes.

In a ceremony at Lote 23, the food truck park in Santurce, the governor presented the aid to Cristina Sumaza, the park’s owner, as well as to six other grantees.

After this initial phase, the SBF program “will offer them the opportunity of applying for flexible loans with the end goal of fostering their economic recovery even further,” a press release issued by the governor’s office reads.

“On March 24, we announced the start of this program and in just three months, we have already begun to deliver aid to those who applied and qualified. The micro and small business sector is a fundamental one in our economy and this aid represents a necessary push to continue with the reconstruction of our island,” Vázquez said, while thanking the “Department of Housing and the Economic Development Bank (EDB) in this effort, who have worked hard to achieve the delivery of this aid in a short time.”

This first phase supports economic recovery through the creation of new jobs, the retention of employees, as well as the attention to pertinent needs that these companies have as a result of the damage caused by the storms.

Meeting one of the objectives of Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery (CDBG-DR) funding, HUD set a minimum target for spending 30 percent of SBF funding on projects that result in a benefit for people with moderate and middle incomes or that serve low- to moderate-income areas.
Small businesses that suffered damages from earthquakes or COVID-19 may participate if damage caused by hurricanes Irma or María can be proven.

Puerto Rico Housing Secretary Luis Fernández Trinchet, said his agency has “been focused on accelerating the process so that aid from the CDBG-DR program reaches our people. In the midst of the pandemic emergency, we have continued to work hard and launch this program, and today we see the result….”

The EDB is the general administrator of the SBF program through a sub-recipient agreement.

“Regarding this financial product, at the moment the EDB has received 1,950 applications and we have reviewed more than 1,000 applications so far,” said the government bank’s president, Pablo Muñiz.

As defined by the CDBG-DR program, microenterprises are companies that have five or fewer employees, which includes their owner or owners. Small businesses are defined as those composed of 75 employees or less. Sole proprietors may apply as well.

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