SBA PR&USVI Newsletter Caribbean E-Outlook - December 2019 Issue

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Puerto Rico & USVI District Office  - December 2019

u s small business administration

SBA's SBIR Road Tour First Stop in Puerto Rico a Complete Success!

Group of Federal Government Officials

On Nov. 15, SBA’s SBIR Road Tour stopped in Puerto Rico for the first time ever, with 14 federal agencies and departments looking to support small businesses focused on high-impact research.  Over 220 small businesses, innovators, researchers and local resources came together at the event cosponsored by the SBA, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust with Colmena66, Puerto Rico Trade and Export Company, and Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension (PRiMEX). The support from SBA resource partners, local economic development organizations, and partner federal agencies were instrumental to the SBIR Road Tour’s success in Puerto Rico. 

Steve Bulger and Audience

As a preamble to the SBIR Road Tour, the Federal Laboratory Consortium, along with 14 federal agencies and departments, held discussion panels about the many ways in which companies collaborate and partner on research and development. Close to 100 individuals attended the event and had the opportunity to conduct one-on-one meetings with the federal agency reps.

In the photo above, Region II Regional Administrator Steve Bulger delivers welcome remarks.

SBA Loans in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands Increase 35 Percent during Fiscal Year 2019


The U.S. Small Business Administration approved (SBA) approved 439 loans for $78.2 million to small businesses in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands during fiscal year 2019, a 35 and 28 percent increase, respectively, over the previous year. Of the total loans approved, 189 for $39 million were for small businesses in rural areas.

“Fiscal year 2019 brought with it many challenges, but also much success,” said SBA Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands District Director Yvette T. Collazo. “While it is true that our economy continues to recover two years after the devastation left behind by hurricanes Irma and Maria, it is also true that our entrepreneurs are resilient and persevering. Our results speak for themselves. Small businesses continue to start and grow, and they look to the SBA to help meet their financial needs.”

Click here for more.

Lender Match: Tu Conexión Prestataria Matchmaking Events Impact over 100 Small Business Entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico

Group of SBA officials, lenders and partners

The Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands district office has successfully conducted three Lender/Borrower Matchmaking Events called “Lender Match: Tu Conexión Prestataria”, aimed at connecting start-ups and existing small businesses in need of capital with potential lenders. The events, held in Caguas, Ponce and Fajardo, with the collaboration of the Puerto Rico SBTDC, counted with the participation of 20 lenders, USDA Rural Development, trade associations and resource partners, and with over 160 small business entrepreneurs seeking financial assistance. Stay tuned for details on our next Lender/Borrower Matchmaking Events: Feb. 21, 2020 on the West Coast and March 20 in the northern region.

Women as Innovators Main Topic during National Women's Small Business Month

Group of entrepreneurs and SBA and WBC officials

During the month of October, the Puerto Rico office conducted several Women as Innovators workshops in San Juan, Ponce and Mayagüez, in observance of National Women’s Small Business Month. These events also served as preparation for SBA's SBIR Road Tour Puerto Rico stop in November. A total of 54 women business owners attended said workshops.

National Small Business Week Awards, submit your nomination.

The clock is ticking! National Small Business Week Awards are due no later than 3:00 p.m. ET on January 7, 2020.  Winners will be announced during National Small Business Week, May 3-9, 2020.  Submit your nomination for a chance to receive one of the nation’s highest honors for small business achievement. Attention of: Angelique Adjutant, Public Affairs Officer, 273 Ponce de Leon Ave., Plaza 273, Suite 510, San Juan, PR 00917. Click here for nomination forms and guidelines.

Jorge Betancourt and audience

In Brief

In preparation of the November SBIR Road Tour stop in Puerto Rico, Economic Development Specialist Jorge Betancourt conducted a pre-SBIR tour with nine workshops throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to educate small business owners on the benefits and advantages of SBA's Small Business Innovation Research program. Over 110 individuals attended the workshops.

Lenders and SBA official at panel

The Puerto Rico team participated in the U.S. Department of Transportation Southeast Region’s 2020 Vision Tour: Financing the Future of Small Business. Held in the municipalities of San Juan and Ponce, the events were aimed at promoting DOT contracting opportunities among local small businesses, and to provide these with information on various financing programs to support contract performance.

Federal and economic development officials

District Director Yvette Collazo participated in a roundtable together with National Institute of Standards and Technology; Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust; Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension (PRiMEX); and other organizations to discuss the economic impact on the island through small business innovation and technology transfer. 

Group of SBA, USDA and Puerto Rico SBTDC officials

Last month, the SBA, together with the Puerto Rico SBDC and the USDA Rural Development Puerto Rico State Office, held the first “Foro Agroempresarial de la Montaña” (Mountain Agribusiness Forum) in Barranquitas, a small mountain municipality in the island’s central region. The team and collaborating organizations conducted a series of panels and presentations for 62 entrepreneurs and farmers on topics such as financing, incentives and grants to foster innovation among the agricultural sector.

Jorge Betancourt and workshop attendees

Last month, Economic Development Specialist Jorge Betancourt was a guest presenter at a government contracting workshop hosted by the Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center in San Juan. Betancourt addressed attendees on how to market their firms’ products and services to federal procurement officers.

In the Media

As part of SBIR Road Tour marketing efforts on the island, SBA District Director Yvette Collazo participated in a series of print and broadcast media interviews. At right, Collazo speaks to El Nuevo Día reporter Sharon Pérez. Next to Pérez is Colmena66 Executive Director Denisse Rodríguez.

Yvette Collazo, Denisse Rodriguez and Sharon Perez
David Reyes and Yvette Collazo

Notiseis 360 reporter David Reyes interviews Collazo.


Yvette Collazo and Maria Miranda

Collazo answers questions from Caribbean Business reporter María Miranda.

Juan Figueroa, Denisse Rodriguez, Yvette Collazo and Margarita Aponte

Jugando Pelota Dura (Playing Hardball) Reporter Margarita Aponte talks to Collazo (far right on sofa); Colmena66 Executive Director Denisse Rodríguez; and Juan Figueroa, Associate Researcher of the PR Science, Technology & Research Trust.

Yvette Collazo, Denisse Rodriguez and Valentina Pirazzi

Collazo (left) explains the SBIR process along with Colmena66 Executive Director Denisse Rodríguez (center) and Valentina Pirazzi, director of Innovation and Technology of the Puerto Rico SBDC during a Facebook live stream hosted by Colmena66, to engage the online community and further promote the first-time event in Puerto Rico for researchers and small business innovators.

Denisse Rodrguez, Yvette Collazo, Carlos McConnie

Collazo was a guest on ABC 5’s variety show Primetime. From the left, Coleman66 Executive Director Denisse Rodríguez;  Collazo; and Primetime show host Carlos McConnie.

Newscasters and Yvette Collazo

Collazo (far right) speaks about SBA financial assistance to the news team at Mega TV's Nación Z, during its segment "Conexión PYMES", co-hosted by Karla Sustache (far left).

Virgin Islands Highlights

SBA and USVI Officials

SBA Team Conducts SBIR Roundtable in St. Croix

The Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands district office conducted an SBIR Roundtable in St. Croix, as an extension to its 2019 SBIR Road Tour stop in Puerto Rico. Close to 35 small business owners, researchers, members of academia, and local and federal government officials joined SBA HQs and the district office team at the roundtable. 

Wayne Huddleston and event attendee

SBA USVI Senior Area Manager Wayne Huddleston participated in the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park’s first “Demo Day” which provided USVI entrepreneurs the opportunity pitch their businesses to prospective investors. Pictured: Wayne Huddleston discusses small business entrepreneurship programs with Virgin Islands RT Park Director of Business Attraction and Entrepreneurship, Eric Sonnier.

Mariano Torres

Last month, SBA Business Opportunity Specialists Mariano Torres (left) and Eduardo Velez traveled to St. Thomas and St. Croix, respectively, to conduct one-on-one sessions with existing small business owners. 

Eduardo Velez

The sessions were aimed at providing individual orientation on the System for Awards Management, SBA's HUBZone Program, WOSB and EDWOSB, and encourage certification to gain better access to federal contracting opportunities. For more information on how your can certify your small businesses, please call (787) 523-7120 or (787) 766-5572.

Join the SBA and learn all about the All Small Mentor Protégé Program, Procurement Assistance and more!

Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 starting at 7:00 AM in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Register Here!

Upcoming District Office Workshops*

HUBZone Certification

Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Click to Register

Veterans Business Development 

Friday, Jan. 17, 2020

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Click to Register

Government Contracting 101 - Part 1: Certifications

Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Click to Register

Government Contracting 101 - Part 2: Marketing

Monday, Jan. 27, 2020

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Click to Register

Entrepreneurial Development Workshop

Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Click to Register

HUBZone Certification

Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Click to Register

Government Contracting 101 - Part 1: Certifications

Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Click to Register

Government Contracting 101 - Part 2: Marketing

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Click to Register

Entrepreneurial Development Workshop

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Click to Register

Veterans Business Development 

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Click to Register

*All of the above workshops will be conducted at SBA's District Office, unless otherwise noted: 273 Ponce de León Ave., Plaza 273 Suite 510, San Juan, PR 00917