(March 24, 2020 – La Fortaleza, San Juan) Governor Wanda Vázquez-Garced announced that the application process, either online or by phone, will begin tomorrow for the Small Business Financing (SBF) program, which will offer subsidies and loans that will assist micro-enterprises and small businesses in their recovery after the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

During its initial Recovery Assistance phase, SBF will award up to $50,000 for operational capital, inventory, rent or mortgage payment, payroll, utilities, or equipment for businesses that suffered losses due to the passing of the 2017 hurricanes. After this phase, the SBF program will offer them the opportunity to apply for flexible loans in order to further promote their economic recovery.

“Micro-enterprises and small businesses are fundamental for the island’s recovery and development. This SBF assistance, which we have been working on and have been preparing to announce, is here to support this important sector of the local economy that doesn’t necessarily have the resources or capital that larger businesses have,” said Vázquez-Garced.

The secretary of the Department of Housing, Luis Fernández-Trinchet, stated  that “the SBF Recovery Assistance will support the island’s economic recovery by creating new jobs, promoting the retention of employees, and addressing the needs these businesses may have as a result of the damages caused by the storms.”

Fernández-Trinchet announced that interested individuals may now begin their application process either by phone or online. It is recommended that they have their documentation ready, which can be submitted online, and they can have their questions answered by calling the phone number provided.

“Our team has personnel available that are examining the requests remotely, in accordance with the instructions issued under Executive Order 2020-23,” he explained.

As defined by the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program, micro-enterprises are businesses with five or fewer employees, including their owner or owners. This also includes businesses made up of a sole, self-employed owner. Small businesses are defined as those with 75 or fewer employees.

As part of the requirements, applicants must provide evidence of damages or interruptions to their business caused by the 2017 hurricanes, as well as of a recovery and growth need that has not been addressed or a low- or moderate-income job creation and retention need that has not been met.

On the other hand, in order to comply with the national objectives of the CDBG-DR Program, the secretary stated that the objective is using 30% of the SBF funds for projects that benefit low- and moderate-income individuals or that serve low- to -moderate-income (LMI) areas.

It was reported that the Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico (EDB) will serve as a general administrator for the SBF program through a subrecipient agreement.

BDE President Pablo Muñiz said that “the BDE has taken on this assignment alongside the Department of Housing to help the business owners affected by the storms, with great responsibility and a great commitment to our people that comes before all else. Alongside our employees, we will continue promoting a stable economic development in this manner and we will achieve our institutional mission.”

The BDE will be responsible for managing all of the primary aspects of the program, such as carrying out CDBG-DR compliance reviews and intake and eligibility reviews; implementing compliance and financial management reports; as well as producing grant calculations and designing schedules.

Likewise, the BDE will also provide support to applicants and clients, prepare assistance agreements and related documents; and will maintain accurate documentation and records.

Interested individuals may now complete their application online at www.cdbg-dr.pr.gov. Additional information regarding the program’s eligibility requirements and guidelines is also available at the website. They may also send an email to EcoRecCDBG@vivienda.pr.gov or call 1 (833) 234- 2324.