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SBA to assist Puerto Rico businesses affected by COVID-19 emergency

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced it has granted Gov. Wanda Vázquez’s request to help businesses on the island affected by the global emergency related to COVID-19. 

On Mar. 18, Vázquez asked the SBA for resources under the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program for businesses in Puerto Rico under the Robert T. Stafford Emergency Assistance and Disaster Relief Act. 

The petition was granted two days later, providing Puerto Rico essential resources to ensure that entrepreneurs continue to be able to keep their business open, return to work, and overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SBA-approved request includes full access and assistance to local businesses for the EIDL, and up to $2 million in assistance to provide economic support to help small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Additionally, the program can be used for fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Furthermore, it was also requested that the interest rate of the loans be 3.75% or the lowest applicable rate for small businesses. 

This assistance will help alleviate economic injury caused by this global outbreak and provide economic stimulus to the Puerto Rico’s economy during this emergency, the governor said.

Additionally, as SBA continues to provide relief, the island will have assistance and guidance from the agency. 

“We thank SBA for acting swiftly to provide small businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size much-needed assistance during this Coronavirus COVID-19 global emergency,” said Jennifer M. Storipan director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.

“As Puerto Rico continues to weather this outbreak, these resources will provide our entrepreneurs and business owners relief and economic assistance to meet their financial obligations,” she said. 

“PRFAA will continue to work with SBA and other federal agencies to provide resources that continue to ensure the welfare, health, and safety of the people of Puerto Rico during this pandemic,” Storipan added.

Meanwhile, SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza announced changes to help borrowers still paying back SBA loans from previous disasters. By making this change, deferments through Dec. 31, 2020, will be automatic.

Now, borrowers of home and business disaster loans do not have to contact SBA to request deferment, she said.

“These actions by the SBA make it easier for states and territories to request a declaration so that small businesses statewide can now apply for economic injury disaster loans,” said SBA Atlantic Regional Administrator Steve Bulger who oversees the agency’s operations in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“This is another way the SBA is working around the clock to find ways to assist small businesses,” he added.

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

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