Yvette Collazo, who for the past seven years has headed the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands territories, will be stepping down from her post effective Mar. 27.
She has accepted a position with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, which she described as “a career dream come true.”
“When I look back, I realize how lucky I am to have been part of the SBA. This experience provided me with a unique opportunity to share with all of you the ups and downs that of our beloved Puerto Rico and the USVI have endured over the last several years,” said Collazo, who began her tenure as district director at the local office in February 2013.
Collazo noted a number of accomplishments over the past seven years, including:
- Bringing the Emerging Leaders Program to the District for the first time in 2015 and since then have graduated more than 140 small businesses in our district;
- Successfully adding 10 financial institutions to the SBA lender roster in Puerto Rico;
- Partnering with SBA’s headquarters to open a Women’s Business Center on Puerto Rico’s west coast;
- Conducting more than 25 Boots to Business/Reboot classes in the district and adding a representative in Puerto Rico to serve veterans;
- Obtaining a procurement center representative co-located with the district office to provide contracting expertise to small businesses on a daily basis;
- Establishing strategic alliances with more than 30 organizations to expand its programs;
- Reaching more than 36,000 small business entrepreneurs through a wide range of SBA programs;
- Assisting in the expansion of the HUBZone program in Puerto Rico from 22% to 82% of the island and 100% in the USVI;
- Partnering with the agency’s headquarters to revamp the SCORE chapter in Puerto Rico and opening one in the USVI for the first time to provide additional technical assistance to our small businesses;
- Working closely with lending institutions to provide financial assistance of more than $500 million and 3,700 loans in the district;
- Conducting the SBIR Road Tour in Puerto Rico for the first time, opening doors to research and development opportunities for small businesses in the district; and,
- Accepting more than $400 Million in 8(a) contracts on behalf of small businesses in the district.
She said the highlight of the agency’s work during her tenure was conducting outreach to individuals and small businesses throughout Puerto Rico during the aftermath of Hurricane María in September 2017.
“More than 4,500 individuals were impacted in 73 municipalities: 2,000 individuals in the first month alone,” she said.
“To all of my Puerto Rico and USVI district office colleagues, you’re the best team any leader could possibly ever hope for. Small businesses in Puerto Rico and the USVI have a brighter future every day because of your resilience, dedication, and outstanding work. Don’t ever forget it,” she said.
Her successor is expected to be named in coming weeks, this media outlet confirmed.