The U.S. Small Business Administration approved $80.5 million in loans to small business in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands during fiscal year 2015, District Director Yvette T. Collazo announced Monday.
As of Sept. 30, the SBA supported 625 loans for $55.4 million under the agency’s 7(a) Loan Guaranty program, a 15 percent and 13 percent increase, respectively, over loans approved during the previous fiscal year.
The 7(a) program provides financing for a variety of general business purposes, such as working capital, expansion or renovation of facilities, the purchase of machinery and equipment, and the purchase of land, among others.
“During the past 12 months, our district office worked diligently with our participating lenders to ensure they had the training and support necessary to deliver our programs and assist a higher number of small businesses than in the past couple of years,” Collazo said.
“Furthermore, with fewer commercial banks left in Puerto Rico we are expanding our community lender base to reach sectors that have traditionally been underserved. We recently approved Cooperativa de Ahorro & Crédito Oriental as the seventh credit union under the 7(a) program on the island,” she added.
Also in fiscal year 2015, the SBA delivered 64 loans for over $25 million through the agency’s 504 Certified Development Company program. Designed to promote economic development by creating jobs through long-term, fixed financing, the Certified Development Company program supported nearly 400 jobs in 2015.
To facilitate access to lenders, during the last fiscal year the SBA launched LINC, a new online referral tool for small business owners. An acronym for Leveraging Information and Networks to access Capital, LINC has streamlined and expedited the process of accessing capital through the SBA by connecting small business borrowers with participating lenders.
In addition, the agency issued acceptance letters on behalf of 33 8(a) certified firms for over $30 million in federal contracts. More than 7,000 existing or aspiring entrepreneurs received counseling and training through SBA and its resource partners such as the Puerto Rico Small Business and Technology Development Center, the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center and the Puerto Rico Women’s Business Institute.
“The SBA continues to promote its programs to help even more small businesses start, grow and succeed,” said Collazo. “We are committed to our district’s economic development and look forward to impacting even more entrepreneurs in fiscal year 2016.”