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U.S. Dept. of Commerce invests $13M to build disaster resilient biz incubator

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $13 million grant to the University of Puerto Rico in Ponce to establish a disaster resilient research and business facility to support high-growth businesses focused on the health and medical tourism industries.

The EDA grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $2.35 million in local funds and is expected to create 30 jobs, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said.

“The University of Puerto Rico’s Smart Hub in Ponce will advance business growth in the health and medical industries and provide disaster resilient infrastructure to protect businesses against future severe weather events and utility disruptions,” he said.

This project is funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which U.S. 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.

“Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was severely impacted by Hurricanes Irma and María in 2017,” said Dana Gartzke, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development.

“This project will promote economic resilience to advance Puerto Rican businesses across the island, and the facility’s location in an Opportunity Zone also provides additional tax incentives for continued business growth,” Gartzke said.

“With this new allocation funds from EDA, we were able to secure growth in one of these designated areas in the southern area, which has been affected by the impact of Irma and María and by this year’s earthquakes,” said Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in Washington, Jenniffer González.

This boost will help strengthen Puerto Rico’s economic engine by generating jobs and strengthening infrastructure in areas of greater vulnerability, she said.

“Moreover, these funds will contribute to expanding the institution’s offerings and the resources for the healthcare industry for a more resilient reconstruction,” González said.

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

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