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DDEC allocates $5M in incentives to capitalize businesses hit by Fiona

The Department of Economic Development and Commerce’s (DDEC, in Spanish) Workforce Development Program (WDP) will offer $5 million in economic incentives to capitalize businesses affected by Hurricane Fiona on the island.

In addition, it will begin a campaign known as “Conexión Laboral” to promote and educate about labor development services in Puerto Rico aimed at the labor force and employers.

“These initiatives are part of the grant received by the DDEC’s WDP from the US Department of Labor. The economic incentive may benefit some 500 companies established in Puerto Rico with an allocation of up to $10,000 per company that has been affected by Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico,” DDEC Secretary Manuel Cidre said.

“The launching of ‘Conexión Laboral’ aims to raise awareness of the services available to the workforce and employers. This way, we’re directing our efforts in our strategic framework PRopósito,” he said.

The incentive for business capitalization was assigned to the DDEC’s WDP which allows the use of $5 million as an initial stage to cover some of the needs of business owners whose operations were affected by Hurricane Fiona. Allowable expenses include purchasing and repairing equipment and machinery and losing inventory. Businesses may receive up to $10,000.

Employers doing business in Puerto Rico on or before June 20, 2022, such as DBAs, self-employed or for-profit corporations, and generate a sales volume up to $1,500,000 regardless of the number of employees on their payroll, are eligible to apply for funds under this grant.

“DDEC staff will evaluate each application with appropriate evidence and determine the maximum incentive amount through the business capitalization platform. This new incentive will be available for application starting Nov. 16, through the refuerzoeconómico.com platform,” said Jenny Mar Cañón, assistant secretary of the DDEC’s Federal Affairs office.

“To impact the maximum number of entrepreneurs, DDEC staff will be visiting municipalities throughout the island, providing orientation on how to complete the application on the platform,” she said.

“This is possible because the State of Connecticut, in collaboration with the US Department of Labor, kindly lent us a mobile unit at no cost to be able to do this initiative,” Cañón said.

In addition, the launch of the “Conexión Laboral” promotional campaign aims to unify Puerto Rico’s workforce development system. By doing so, the workforce will know firsthand where to go for training and retraining, and where they can find help to get a job and improve their skills and knowledge in an existing job. This will enable them to keep up with the latest technological advances and other tools they need to compete in a rapidly evolving world.

This initiative began Monday through 15 Local Labor Development Areas (ALDL) so that youth, workers, employers, educational institutions, and government agencies can connect with the purpose to reach services more effectively and directly.

The US Department of Labor endorsed the initiative through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to promote the services and activities of the Puerto Rico Workforce Development System, DDEC officials said.

“The purpose is to attract more citizens and employers to the 15 Local Workforce Development Areas located in all island regions,” Cidre said.

“We want more participants to train, upgrade their skills, find, and retain jobs, and train according to the current demand. As well as, for more in-school and out-of-school youth, adults, and displaced workers to succeed in today’s job market,” he said.

‘Registered Apprenticeship Program’ graduates 11
As part of the announcement, Cidre confirmed that 11 advanced manufacturing apprentices graduated from Boston Scientific’s Registered Apprenticeship Program as machine operators.

There are more than 900 active participants in this program in different industry sectors, such as construction, services, and advanced manufacturing.

“There are certifications in information technology, construction, healthcare, hospitality and tourism, cybersecurity, energy, engineering, transportation, food industry, and financial services, among other sectors. The Registered Apprenticeship Program is tailored to the needs of the industries. It is an industry-led strategy that enables employers to train and retain a high-quality workforce. The apprentice takes occupation-related classes while working and receives a U.S.-wide recognized certification,” Cañón said.

“With ‘Conexión Laboral’ and the Registered Apprenticeship Program, we’re confident that all youth, adults, dislocated workers, and employers in need can benefit. The various tools they need for their development are available, and we want them to make the most of them to achieve a positive change in their lives and our society,” Cidre said.

“We aim to use in that direction every penny granted through WIOA. Today we celebrate the launch of ‘Conexión Laboral’ and the graduation of the first apprentices in Puerto Rico from Boston Scientific, a manufacturer dedicated to transforming lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world,” he said.

“Puerto Rican workers for the world. But we want them to stay here. That is what we are talking about,” said Cidre.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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