New Community Center in Hucares Shows Recovery

Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced and Jesús Vélez Vargas, the director of the Office for Socio-Economic and Community Development of Puerto Rico (ODSEC),  joined the mayor of Naguabo, Noé Marcano Rivera, to open the rebuilt Húcares Beach Community Center.

“The heart of the Húcares Beach Community is beating again,” said community leader Carlos Iván Pérez, president of the Community Board of Playa Húcares.

The community center will house community meanings, training events, sports camps, a technology center, and many other events to benefit the families of the community. At the same time, the facility will also be a central place people can come to when they need assistance with rebuilding and recovery, now or in the future.

Puerto Rico continues to rebuild and recover in spite of lack of federal support and local political upheaval. Improvements in the infrastructure help to support entrepreneurship on the Island.

Telecommunications wins

Connected Nation reports that Puerto Rico businesses are taking advantage of e-commerce to increase revenue as the Island returns to business as usual. “This year, we’ve seen a significant jump in the number of Puerto Rico businesses selling products online,” Research Director Chris McGovern said. “About half are now doing so compared to only about 28 percent in 2017. We see that companies that do business online get about one-third of their revenue from online sales. That’s up from just 19 percent two years ago.”

Parallel 18, a Puerto Rico startup incubator supporting entrepreneurs, recently joined Google’s Developer Launchpad. This is a global community providing resources to startup accelerators. Through this initiative, Parallel 18 will have access to data, mentors, and tools that it hopes will speed up growth for the companies it supports.

Operation Hope, together with U.S. Economic Development Administration and private donors, will be offering intensive education programs for underserved small businesses in Puerto Rico. Since the entire Island is designated as an Opportunity Zone, or an underserved area, federal funds and business assistance will be available to many small Mom and Pop businesses in tourism and hospitality, agriculture, and other industries. Support is also planned for micro-businesses, those with revenue under $50,000 per year.  Altogether, 500 businesses will be enrolled in the Digital Small Business Development Program for a period of 27 months. They will learn about business development and finance, with a focus on using the internet to expand their markets.

Tourism rebounds

Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, says that tourism has been “record-breaking,” even factoring in the summer protests. Puerto Rico’s tourism industry has historically shown room for improvement, but the government’s focus on the hospitality industry since Hurricane Maria has paid off.

The number of people using hotels in the metropolitan areas of Puerto Rico are way up — the month of July showed almost 25% higher numbers than in July of 2018. Outside of metropolitan areas, the numbers are slightly lower, but Puerto Rico as a whole is seeing a 21.13% increase year over year. Figures for August are not yet available at this writing, but there is broad agreement within the industry that Puerto Rico is seeing a significant rise in tourism and hospitality.

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