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The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today the launch of two Women’s Business Centers (WBC) in Puerto Rico, hosted by Ana G. Méndez University, Gurabo Campus (UAGM-Gurabo), and Friends of Puerto Rico. The new centers will carry out the mission of helping women-owned small businesses throughout Puerto Rico start, grow, and expand their businesses and reflect the agency’s priority to increase access for women entrepreneurs to resources in socially and economically disadvantaged communities.

“Latina entrepreneurs are among the fastest-growing entrepreneurial segments in the nation. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and as the nation recovers, it is SBA’s priority to ensure that women in Puerto Rico have equitable access to resources and support to start, scale, and grow much-needed businesses within their communities,” said Natalie Madeira Cofield, SBA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO). “The SBA’s WBC program is that catalyst for the growth of in-depth, substantive, outcome-oriented business services for women entrepreneurs.”

The WBC, sponsored by UAGM-Gurabo, will provide services in the Central Eastern Region of Puerto Rico in Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Barranquitas, Caguas, Cayey, Ceiba, Cidra, Comerío, Gurabo, Humacao, Juncos, Las Piedras, Naguabo, Orocovis, San Lorenzo, Guayama, Arroyo, Patillas, Maunabo and Yabucoa. The second WBC, sponsored by Friends of Puerto Rico, will serve San Juan and Bayamon.

The SBA’s Women’s Business Centers are a national network of more than 135 centers that offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance, and mentoring to women entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics, including business startup, financial management, marketing, and procurement.

The Office of Women’s Business Ownership’s mission is to empower women entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education, and support. Since it was established in response to an Executive Order in 1979, OWBO has provided training, counseling, technical assistance, access to credit and capital, as well as marketing opportunities to women.

President Joe Biden, in his proclamation declaring September 12-18 as National Small Business Week, stated, “The American entrepreneurial spirit is a defining quality of our Nation which time and again has lifted us to new heights and carried us through our greatest challenges. Small businesses are not only the engines of our economic progress — they are the heart and soul of our communities. During National Small Business Week, we celebrate our Nation’s small businesses — the pillars of their neighborhoods.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck last year, it posed a historic challenge to America’s small businesses. From coast to coast, in big cities, small towns, rural enclaves, and Tribal communities, small business owners and workers demonstrated remarkable courage and resilience, adapting to sudden changes in our way of life and stepping up to serve their communities. Across the country, small businesses extended helping hands to their neighbors during the pandemic’s darkest hours, all while entrepreneurs and employees worked tirelessly around the clock to keep their businesses afloat, make payroll, and ensure the safety of their teams and customers.

“To ensure that these community pillars have a fighting chance to reopen and stay open, my Administration is delivering the loans and support that our Nation’s more than 30 million small businesses and innovative startups need. The American Rescue Plan delivered billions of dollars in economic relief to millions of small businesses — including programs targeted to the hardest-hit industries such as restaurants and performing arts venues. We revamped the Paycheck Protection Program to reach our smallest businesses, with more than 95 percent of the nearly $300 billion in loans made during my Administration supporting small businesses with less than 20 employees, reaching a higher share of businesses in rural and low- or moderate-income communities than in the previous two rounds of the program.

"Through our Restaurant Revitalization Fund, we provided an essential lifeline to more than 100,000 businesses across the country, delivering $28.6 billion in direct support. Last week, my Administration began accepting applications for an improved COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which will put more than $150 billion in funding to work offering long-term, low-interest loans that small businesses can use to retain workers, make rent, and pay down more expensive debt," the president said.

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