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Cidre urges Puerto Rico businesses to opt into 2nd round of SBA funding

Department of Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Cidre urged Puerto Rican businesses and self-employed individuals to participate in the second round of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which so far has approved $88.4 million in loans.

In a report issued late Monday, the federal agency confirmed it has given its support to 2,595 loans in Puerto Rico from Jan. 11-31.

“PPP loans in 2021 doubled when compared to last week’s report. This newest report lists 891,044 loans approved for $72.74 billion across 4,942 lenders,” said Matt Coleman, communications director for the SBA region that includes Puerto Rico. “That is an increase over last week’s totals, which had 400,580 PPP loans totaling more than $35 billion.”

During a press conference at La Fortaleza, Cidre urged businesses to opt into the program, saying “we have to generate awareness in Puerto Rico on the importance of participating in this second round of federal stimulus through the PPP program.”

“We’ve learned that participation this time around hasn’t been as aggressive as the first time,” he said, referring to the first round of funding that the SBA and the U.S. Department of the Treasury opened in mid-2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PPP Loans can be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations, the SBA said.

“It’s important because we can aspire to get up to $2.5 billion in federal assistance, and we’ve barely grabbed a small part through PPP loans,” said Cidre. “We’re doing a public service for the SBA, but I think it’s important that Puerto Rican businesses have access to these funds that carry very low interest rates and offer long-term, low repayment conditions.”

He said bringing that money into the economy is what “will move the needle, which is what we need.”

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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