Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced that the application process — online or by phone — for the Small Business Financing program, which will offer grants and loans to assist micro and small businesses in their recovery after Hurricanes Irma and María, begins today.
In its initial recovery subsidy phase, SBF will grant up to $50,000 for operating capital, inventory, rent or mortgage, payroll, utilities, or equipment for those companies that suffered losses after the strike of the 2017 hurricanes. After that phase, the SBF program will offer the opportunity to apply for flexible loans to further fuel a small company’s economic recovery.
“Micro and small businesses are essential for the island’s recovery and development. This SBF subsidy, which we have been working on and were preparing for this announcement, comes to support this important sector of the local economy, which doesn’t necessarily have the resources or capital that larger companies have,” said Vázquez-Garced.
Housing Secretary Luis Carlos Fernández-Trinchet explained that the SBF subsidy will support the island’s recovery through job creation and retention, as well as addressing the needs that companies have as a result of the damage inflicted by the storms.
According to the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program, which finances the SBF program, microenterprises are those companies that have five or fewer employees, including their owner or owners. This category includes an individual. Meanwhile, small businesses are defined as businesses with 75 or fewer employees.
As part of the requirements, applicants must present evidence of damage or disruption to their business from the 2017 hurricanes, as well as an unmet need for recovery and growth, or an unmet need for job creation and retention of low or moderate income jobs.
To meet the national objectives of the CDBG-DR program, Fernández-Trinchet said a goal has been set to use 30% of the SBF funds on projects that benefit low and moderate income people, or to serve low to moderate income areas.
The Puerto Rico Economic Development Bank will serve as general administrator of the SBF program through a subrecipient agreement.
“The EDB has taken on this task together with the Housing Department to help businesses affected by the storms with great responsibility and a great commitment to our people, which goes above all else,” EDB President Pablo Muñiz said.
The EDB will be responsible for managing all major aspects of the program, such as conducting CDBG-DR compliance assessments, and admission and eligibility evaluations; implement financial management and compliance reports; as well as carrying out award calculations and drafting agendas.