EDB doubled its financing capacity for SMEs in ’21 vs. ’19
The Puerto Rico Economic Development Bank doubled the number of loans approved for small and mid-sized businesses in 2021, when compared to 2019, agency President Luis Alemañy said, adding that in doing so, “the public corporation has become one of the main sources of aid and financing” for that segment known as SMEs.
Offering a summary of the initiatives carried out by the institution during the past year, Alemañy explained that bank representatives visited several towns to offer guidance on the financing options and subsidies available through the Small Business Financing Program under the Puerto Rico Community Development Disaster Recovery funds.
Since the program launched in March 2020, $59 million has been disbursed, translating to 10,480 retained jobs and 5,640 new jobs, he said.
A large part of these funds, $47 million, were approved in the EDB during 2021.
“And, as part of the strategies to continue advancing, strategic alliances were made with both the private sector and other government entities to support the strengthening of SMEs,” said Alemañy.
The EDB was at one time on the list of agencies that would be eliminated as part of the government’s plans to reduce its size and operating costs. However, the agency got the US Department of Treasury to allocate $109 million in 2022, to continue offering financing alternatives, he said.
In addition, as part of alliances to strengthen its links with the private sector, a line of credit was established for the construction sector.
Meanwhile, the EDB signed an agreement with the Department of Labor to create a financing program for those entrepreneurs who needed capital to reopen their businesses or new entrepreneurs who stopped receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, which offers a 4% interest rate.
The EDB also signed collaboration agreements with many representative entities from different sectors, such as the Puerto Rico Franchises Association, the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association (ASORE, in Spanish), the Builders Association and the Puerto Rico College of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).
Alemañy confirmed other alliances with the Puerto Rico Small Business Development and Technology Center, the Agriculture Department, the Puerto Rico Trade and Export, the United Retailers Association (CUD in Spanish), and the Boys & Girls Club of Puerto Rico.
Last year, the EDB also creatied a Center for Economic Studies, which publishes economic and financial metrics, some of which used to be produced by the defunct Government Development Bank.
This year, the EDB plans to activate two Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program initiatives — Regrow and the Economic Portfolio for Growth — which respectively seek to provide economic development of the agricultural industry and develop infrastructure, roads, and hotels, among other projects.