Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner, Rep. Jennifer González-Colón, have written the head of the Small Business Administration expressing the need to expand contracting opportunities for small businesses in Puerto Rico.
The letter urges SBA to help small firms operating there to participate in the federal marketplace.
“Federal procurement policy can be a powerful force in igniting economic opportunity in Puerto Rico,” said Velázquez. “It is time for Congress to work with SBA to meet the needs of small businesses on the island, creating good paying jobs for Puerto Rico’s residents.”
The U.S. government serves as the largest standalone purchaser of goods in the world and awards nearly $500 billion in contracts every year, they said.
Puerto Rico ranks last in terms of the dollar value of federal contracts granted compared to U.S. states.
“When it comes to securing federal contracts, the deck is already stacked against small business owners in Puerto Rico,” said Velázquez. “If we do not help small firms secure opportunities to gain relevant experience, they simply will not be [equipped] to bid on future federal contracts.”
The letter also urges the SBA to take steps to expand SBA procurement center representatives as well as ongoing workshops and mentorship initiatives.
“Small businesses are the island’s engine of economic growth, which makes it vital for SBA to assist and be the connection for our merchants to have access to direct federal contracts,” González-Colón said.
“During her visit to the island, I accompanied Administrator [Linda] McMahon to meetings with merchants from different business segments in our economy and they all agreed on how difficult and almost inaccessible can the competitive process be for them to bid for federal contracts in Puerto Rico, when many of them are announced and awarded directly from the nation’s capital,” she said.
“A federal procurement center in Puerto Rico would allow faster direct access to federal agency contracts,” González-Colón added.