- Economic Development Districts
Economic Development Districts (EDD) play a vital role in the EDA grant application process. Comprised of multiple jurisdictions that often cross state lines, EDDs leverage the involvement of the public, private, and non-profit sectors to establish a strategic blueprint for economic development.
As a territory of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is as eligible for EDA funding as any state in the union. Prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, it often receives EDA support in the form of disaster recovery and relief. Despite this however, Puerto Rico does not have its own designated EDD, at least not yet.
Later this year, EDA will officially certify and recognize the Southern Puerto Rico Economic Development District (SPREDD). It will focus on helping small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs develop a favorable business climate for the island’s southern region, an area of roughly 15 towns, with an emphasis on health, tourism, and agriculture.
Attorney Salvador Rovira has been instrumental throughout the certification process and will serve as President of the new EDD. When not practicing law, he works as a consultant to Puerto Rico’s health care professionals and sees it as an important component to building economic resiliency.
“Health care is the largest industry in the southern region, which is home to six hospitals, including one specializing in cardiovascular services,” said Rovira. “EDA support, made possible in part through our new EDD, will be crucial in providing those services necessary to keep the health care industry going.”
Although Puerto Rico is often considered a top tourist destination, the southern region is currently capable of providing only about 1,000 rooms for visiting tourists. According to Rovira, local developers will be working on several projects over the next few years to add an additional 400 rooms by 2025. Through SPREDD, they hope to acquire EDA support for this project that will bring tourists to the region while creating jobs in the hospitality sector.
The southern region is also home to a burgeoning hydroponic agriculture industry. Through the new EDD, Rovira hopes to create a food industry ecosystem.
“SPREDD will foster a continuance of hydroponic agriculture, one through which restaurants and supermarkets can provide for themselves through local producers.”
For the latest information on SPREDD and economic development efforts in Puerto Rico, please visit eda.gov and our social media channels.