(March 24, 2021 – San Juan, P.R.) – Today the secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Housing (PRDOH), William Rodríguez Rodríguez, signed three subrecipient agreements that allow access to $7.1 million from the CDBG-DR funds for the Small Business Incubators and Accelerators program (SBIA).
The first three entities which will receive the grant for implementing the initiatives related to incubating and accelerating the island’s small businesses are the Sila María Calderón Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico, and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM).
“This program’s goal is to considerably increase success rates in the entrepreneurial community, a sector that definitely needs all available support in order to continue contributing to Puerto Rico’s economic growth and development. Our priority has been to provide funding to those who need it most, and through this program we are able to successfully support an important sector and develop new entrepreneurs in the long-term,” explained Rodríguez Rodríguez.
For her part, the president of the Board of Directors of the Sila M. Calderón Foundation, the former governor expressed that “we’re proud and honored, and at the same time, challenged in a positive way by this opportunity of being selected as recipients for the Department of Housing’s CDBG-DR funds, for creating an incubator and accelerator focused on small businesses. This grant allows us to elevate the level of offerings and training we offer to startups, with the goal to promote the development of entrepreneurs by helping with the practical and educational aspects of their business initiatives so that they can be successful and sustainable.”
Calderón also added that this agreement will help “them have necessary tools that would succeed in creating and retaining jobs; increasing the injection of capital into small businesses and their consequent contribution to the country’s economy and promoting the consumption of their products locally and their potential for exportation.”
“I am grateful to the Department of Housing and the Proposal Evaluation Committee. Having obtained a score of one hundred percent in the technical evaluation challenges us to be the model for quick and successful implementation and launching; in addition to setting an example for coming through for our participants and the institutions that have made this project possible,” concluded the former governor.
The SBIA program has a budget of $85 million and has currently received a total of 114 applications. Financing the program will support the creation of small business incubators and accelerators throughout the island through a recovery grant of up to $2.5 million.
Small business incubators and accelerators are organizational projects that provide services to small businesses and startups, including a physical space, education, technical support that promotes success and business sustainability, mentoring, and access to investment capital.
For her part, the executive director of Vimenti Center by Boys and Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, Bárbara Rivera Batista, pointed out that “we’re immensely grateful for the opportunity to continue expanding our impact and commitment to eradicate poverty in Puerto Rico. We believe in the potential of socially and economically disadvantaged communities. We recognize that expanding opportunities to develop and bolster their businesses will be not only be beneficial for them as entrepreneurs and their families but will also allow for the creation of new jobs and will contribute to the economic development of our communities and the country.”
The director of the Center for the Research and Development Center of the UPRM, Manuel Jiménez, said that “the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, feels more than privileged to be chosen for the Small Business Incubators and Accelerators (SBIA) program. We believe that this is the product of a history of advancements in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation at our campus. We are certain that, with this project, we’ll reinforce the support for businesses that already exists at the Business and Economic Development Center in cooperation with other collaborators in the business ecosystem.
Meanwhile, the dean of the UPRM, Agustín Rullán, indicated that “at the Mayagüez Campus, we are committed to support and strengthen an entrepreneurial culture that favors the development of projects. This grant bolsters our already dynamic business ecosystem and provides additional tools to expand its reach. I congratulate doctor Moraima De Hoyos Ruperto, the director of the Business and Economic Development Center (CNDE, for its Spanish acronym) of the Business Management Faculty and head researcher for this multimillion-dollar proposal, and her team, for always seeking opportunities that strengthen our mission to support more entrepreneurs. As a university, we recognize the importance of promoting innovation and creativity as a path toward the country’s economic development. Congratulations!”
The entities eligible for the program are nonprofit organizations, community-based development organizations, public higher education institutions (universities), administrative agencies or departments of the Government of Puerto Rico (state agencies), municipal governments or for-profit entities, as authorized under article 24 C.F.R. 570.201(o).