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Labor Dept. transfers 19 ‘Pa’ mi Gente’ kiosks to promote self-employment

The Puerto Rico Labor Department announced the transfer of 19 mobile kiosks to the same number of municipalities in Puerto Rico’s southern, eastern, and western flanks to boost self-employment and economic activity, agency Secretary Carlos Rivera confirmed.

The “Pa’ mi Gente” program was created in 2010 and ran through December 2016 under the Labor Department. The trucks then fell in disuse and sat abandoned in different parts of the island, including a parking lot in Carolina formerly used by private company DirecTV. In 2017, some 30 units were put up for auction, but the results of that initiative are unclear.

The transfers of the mini food trucks to 55 municipalities that responded to a call by the Labor Department, is possible following the approval of Law 14 of 2021, which allows the agency to deliver them free of charge to towns that in turn will identify potential administrators or use the mobile units to provide direct services in their communities.

The legislation addressed a problem of permits and bureaucracy that for years was an obstacle to incentivize micro-enterprises, he said. The units are designed to offer services and sale of products such as food, arts and crafts, flowers, fruits, vegetables, among others.

“With this initiative, we provide mayors who have shown interest, a valuable tool for creating jobs and promoting the development of new micro-entrepreneurs,” Rivera said.

“By transferring the kiosk to the municipality, the mayor can create a business proposal to generate jobs, request proposals to provide a first entrepreneurial opportunity to unemployed people or establish a mobile office to provide services in their communities, as some municipal executives have already said,” Rivera added.

The first round of transferred vehicles will go to: Villalba; Yauco; Utuado; Cayey; Sabana Grande; Ponce; Peñuelas; Patillas; Maunabo; Lajas; Juana Díaz; Jayuya; Guánica; Guayanilla; Coamo; Cabo Rojo; Arroyo; Adjuntas and Ceiba.

During a subsequent round, the towns of: Aguada; Aguadilla; Aguas Buenas; Aibonito; Barceloneta; Barranquitas; Caguas; Camuy; Canóvanas; Cataño; Ciales; Cidra; Guaynabo; Florida; Corozal; Comerío; Gurabo; Hatillo; Hormigueros; Juncos; Lares; Las Marías; Las Piedras; Loíza; Manatí; Moca; Naranjito; Rincón; Quebradillas; Río Grande; San Juan; San Lorenzo; Toa Baja; Vega Baja; Vega Alta and Yabucoa will get their assigned units.

The law that enabled freeing up the mobile units also calls for a second phase in which the Labor Department will grant property tiles to entrepreneurs who have been running their businesses for two or more years according to the mandate. Each mobile unit is valued at between $6,000 and $8,000, the agency confirmed.

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

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