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U.S. Dept. of Commerce invests $1.2M to stoke post-disaster business growth in P.R.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $1.2 million grant to Operation Hope Inc., to provide up to 300 technical assistance workshops in Puerto Rico to help small businesses and entrepreneurs “grow and succeed” following Hurricanes Irma and María in 2017.

The project, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched with nearly $1.8 million in local funds and will be undertaken in partnership with Banco Popular, he said.

“Providing small businesses and budding entrepreneurs in disaster-impacted Puerto Rico with the technical assistance they need to succeed will help the island’s economy recover and become stronger than ever before,” Ross said.

“I thank President Trump and Secretary Wilbur Ross for these new 300 workshops that will be held in Puerto Rico for small and medium businesses providing technical assistance for business expansion, tourism and agriculture after the hurricane,” said Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón. “I urge everyone to take advantage of this opportunity and get back to normal after the hurricane.”

The workshops will focus on helping the Commonwealth’s sole proprietors, mom and pop/family businesses, micro-businesses, and other innovative entrepreneurs. The participating small and micro businesses will be drawn from tourism/hospitality, small scale manufacturing, agriculture, commerce, and traditional business service industries. Technical assistance will focus on continuity activities such as business expansion, new business opportunity building, preparedness, and resilience.

Atlanta-based Operation HOPE is working to disrupt poverty and empower inclusion for low and moderate-income youth and adults. A key component of Operation HOPE’s delivery of this technical assistance is its Digital Entrepreneur Training Program, designed to enable these underserved and developing small businesses to expand their markets through online transactions.

This project is funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance Program funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and María, wildfires and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

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

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