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U.S. Commerce Dept. grants $4.9 million to Puerto Rico Science Trust, university

By on August 15, 2018

SAN JUAN – The U.S. Commerce Department announced Wednesday that its Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $4.9 million in grants to companies throughout Puerto Rico.

EDA’s mission is to help foster innovation as well, and does so through investments in economically distressed communities to create jobs and accelerate growth. The announced funding is aimed at supporting technology startups and manufacturing, “as well as providing a boon to economic recovery and resilience efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.”

The projects are expected to create 687 jobs and provide 300 local entities with technical assistance, the bureau said, citing grantee estimates.

“The Trump Administration has been diligently working to aid the devastated communities and rebuild the broken lives caused by hurricanes in 2017,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Ross said in the published announcement. “These investments will support local entrepreneurs and manufacturers who are laboring to rebuild Puerto Rico and its business community.”

The largest investment announced is for the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, which will receive $4.4 million to construct a 30,000 square-foot building called the Forward Center, that “will house up to 60 technology startups, and a manufacturing company that researches and develops prototype activity of neuro-modulator medical devices.” The project is expected to create 687 jobs.

Also, the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez will receive $500,000 to “design and conduct capacity-building workshops, providing specialized development assistance,” in a project that will serve municipalities and “at least 300” non-profits and government entities “engaged with business recovery efforts,” the EDA said wrote.

“The economic crisis of more than a decade that Puerto Rico has undergone was undoubtedly exacerbated by the impact of two contiguous hurricanes, Irma and María,” Resident Commissioner Jennifer González Colón adds in the release. “The private sector is the engine of our economy and these funds approved by Congress show, once again, the commitment of the federal government to the recovery of the island. These resources will provide the necessary tools to our entrepreneurial merchants to strengthen our economy and make it prosperous.”

These projects are funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (PL 115-123) (PDF), in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program (PDF) funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires and other 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

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