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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $1.1 Million to Support Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Efforts in Puerto Rico Opportunity Zones

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.1 million grant to the University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico, to hire three Disaster Recovery Coordinators to execute disaster recovery efforts throughout the entire Commonwealth. The project, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $266,400 in local investment.

“The Trump Administration is fulfilling its promise to help Puerto Rico recover after the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The disaster recovery coordinators hired at the University of Puerto Rico will serve as liaisons between local, state, and federal partners to further advance recovery efforts and rebuild the local economy back stronger than ever before.”

“In 2018, EDA made $587 million available to eligible grantees in communities impacted by natural disasters in 2017,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “We are pleased to support collaborative economic recovery efforts to help Puerto Rico further recover following Hurricanes Irma and Maria and to do so in Opportunity Zones across the island.”

“We thank President Trump and Secretary Ross for this important EDA grant awarded to the University of Puerto Rico,” said Governor Vázquez Garced. “As the island continues to recover from Hurricanes Irma and María, the recent earthquakes, and as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic, my Administration is taking the necessary steps to guarantee that Puerto Rico has access to available federal funding to aid in the recovery process. We welcome this partnership and look forward to continue collaborating with the U.S. Department of Commerce through this process.”

“This allocation of millions of dollars demonstrates once more that the federal aid continues to be assigned to the reconstruction of Puerto Rico after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria,” said Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress, Jenniffer González Colón. “Moreover, it highlights the accomplishment of including Puerto Rico in the designations of opportunity zones which adds to our recovery, causing substantial investments such as these.”

This project is funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (Pub. L. 116-20) (PDF), in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program (PDF) funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, wildfires, and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

The funding announced today goes to a designated Opportunity Zone, created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones are spurring economic development in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority, which increases the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas. To learn more about the Commerce Department’s work in Opportunity Zones, please visit EDA’s Opportunity Zones webpage. To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Opportunity Now resources page here.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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