Foundation for Puerto Rico officials traveled to Washington, D.C. to present an update on Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts and results, in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
During a meeting, Foundation President Annie Mayol, updated key stakeholders on “collaborative and innovative” programs in which organizations are coming together and leveraging resources for exponential and sustainable impact.
“We aim to boost the social and economic development of Puerto Rico through collaborative, impact-driven programs focusing on the high-growth potential the visitor economy provides the island,” she said.
“We’re very encouraged by the results of our efforts, and we will continue to serve as a catalyst to include state, private, public, nonprofit, and community stakeholders in co-creating a joint strategy for growth,” said Mayol.
Mayol highlighted results of two key programs: Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative and the Small Business Cash Grant Program. The Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative is an asset-based community development program focusing on supporting communities in their long-term relief, reconstruction and resilience programs.
The impact of the Bottom Up Destination Initiatives in the rural central mountain municipality of Orocovis, included capacity building for five local non-governmental organizations, supported more than 30 existing businesses, and helped create five new businesses with an investment of more than $500,000.
Overall, the Small Business Cash Grant Program helped small and medium-sized businesses throughout the island reopen after Hurricane María with cash grants and technical assistance. Of the 200 establishments helped in 11 municipalities, 93 percent remain in operation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that on average between 40 and 60 percent of small businesses do not reopen after an emergency such as Hurricane Maria. The results prompted the Foundation to expand its support to small businesses island-wide, through its Small Business Support Program, officials said.
Recently, the U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded $5.58 million to the Foundation to expand the Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative to 24 communities in Puerto Rico.
EDA Regional Director Linda Cruz-Carnall joined Mayol at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation briefing with stakeholders. The Foundation’s Small Business Support Program is expected to impact 300 small businesses, create 72 new businesses and generate more than 1,000 new jobs.
To accomplish the program’s scale, the Foundation has established alliances with key local organizations including the Center for Entrepreneurship, Banco Popular Foundation, Grupo Guayacán, Kiva Puerto Rico, and is looking for other partners to join their efforts.