U.S. Small Business Administration head María Contreras-Sweet was in Puerto Rico Monday to announced a series of initiatives to spur the island’s economy and create jobs.
During a press conference, she confirmed that the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station has been designated a Historically Underutilized Business Zone, or HUBZone. This designation will help spur economic activity on the island, provide access to federal procurement opportunities for small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, and create jobs in the community, she said.
“The HUBZone Program is a dynamic SBA initiative assisting communities that statistically need the most help alleviating poverty and unemployment and has been a critical resource in creating jobs, reducing poverty, reducing unemployment and promoting economic prosperity in our nation’s most vulnerable communities,” said Contreras-Sweet.
“Now that Roosevelt Roads has been designated a HUBZone, we will hold a Destination: HUB event there later this year to ensure that small businesses working with the government know about the opportunity here in Puerto Rico and opportunities across the U.S. for eligible small businesses,” she said.
A year ago, Puerto Rico government officials met with the SBA to discuss the need to join forces to spur job and business creation.
“Since then, SBA and ‘Fuerza Pymes’ have provided assistance to more than four thousand potential SMEs throughout Puerto Rico. Today, marks a new milestone in the development of Roosevelt Roads,” said House Speaker Jaime R. Perelló-Borrás.
“The HUBZone Program will provide our local SMEs greater support to obtain federal government contracts and develop business plans, as well as increase participation from this sector in government procurement programs. Our common goal for jumpstarting the economic development of Puerto Rico and creating new jobs by betting on SMEs is a reality,” he said.
SBA’s Puerto Rico District Office will assist eligible small businesses with learning how to obtain HUBZone certification and capitalize on contracting benefits through the HUBZone program and the Destination: HUB event planned for later this year.
COFECC gets $220K assignment
Additionally, Contreras-Sweet announced that $220,000 in funding to assist Puerto Rico small businesses is being awarded to the Corporación para el Financiamiento Empresarial del Comercio y de las Comunidades (COFECC) through the agency’s Office of Economic Opportunity.
That package includes $170,000 from the Microloan Program and $50,000 from a PRIME discretionary award. Overall, this funding will provide technical assistance to small businesses in communities facing economic challenges, including those being impacted by the island’s current drought.
The Destination: HUB program encourages economic development and employment growth in distressed areas by providing opportunities for firms to become active participants in the federal supply chain.
The program promotes and highlights HUBZones for opportunities in federal procurement to ensure local economic development boards, government officials, federal buyers, and prime contractors work hand in hand to bring more sole-source and set-aside awards directly for these HUBZones.