Former Puerto Rican Naval Station to be Designated a HUBZone to Spur Economic Activity

Original Article: Orlando Sentinel

A former U.S. Naval base on the eastern edge of Puerto Rico has been included in a federal program that aims to spur economic activity.

Maria Contreras-Sweet, who heads the SBA, announced Monday that the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station has been designated a Historically Underutilized Business Zone, or HUBZone. HUBZones aim to spur economic activity and create jobs within the borders of distressed areas by encouraging small and medium businesses to set up shop. Contreras-Sweet also announced $220,000 in funding to help Puerto Rico small businesses through the federal Microloan program and the agency’s PRIME discretionary program.

It provides technical assistance to small businesses in economically challenged districts and communities. Puerto Rico is in the middle of a financial crisis that has seen many of its residents relocate to Central Florida. In response to the problems, Puerto Rico officials recently increased taxes from 6 percent to 10.5 percent, by far the highest rate in the U.S.

Jaime Perello-Borras, the island’s House Speaker, said in a statement that small and medium businesses “are the engine to strengthen our economy.” He said the program will support small and medium businesses by helping them obtain federal contracts, while also providing training for entrepreneurs.