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New Report: Small Business Grew by 4.2% in Puerto Rico Last Year

SBA Office of Advocacy documents increase in island’s small businesses, reversing previous net loss, as nationwide total of recorded small businesses hits milestone
Release Date: 
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Release Number: 
Contact: (Atlantic Region 2), (Puerto Rico District Office)

SAN JUAN – The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy published its Establishment Dynamics Report for 2018 which provides an assessment of employment dynamics in the United States, starting with the latest U.S. Census economic data available concerning the number and employment of small and large enterprises, establishments, and firms. A small business is defined as having 500 of fewer employees.

While the states of Washington, South Carolina and Idaho experienced the highest rates of net growth in number of establishments around the nation, Puerto Rico grew at a rate of 4.2 percent in 2018 – among the fastest paces of any other area in the country. This was a reversal from 2017 where the island experienced a 5.1 percent net loss of establishments.

The report issued in late August 2019 also indicated that the number of small business openings across America reached its highest point ever. It was an 30,000 increase in small business openings when compared to 2017. The 1,003,000 establishments that opened nationwide outpaced the amount of closures. The report’s data also showed annual business openings exceeded closings for eight consecutive years.

“Puerto Rico’s small business growth rate is among the highest in the nation. That’s a testament to President Trump’s sustained economic success over the last 2 ½ years benefitting American workers.  Year-over-year wage gains across the nation have also topped 3 percent for workers, something that has not happened since 2009,” said SBA Regional Administrator Steve Bulger who oversees the federal agency’s operations in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, New York and New Jersey.

This favorable economic news comes as optimism among small business owners has bounded back, especially as expectations for business conditions, real sales and expansion have recently made solid gains according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.  The nation’s largest small business association also concluded that the small business sector continues to defy expectations with exceptional consecutive months of strong optimism as more entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

“The SBA is committed to helping Puerto Rico entrepreneurs gain access to the financial assistance they need to start, grow and create the jobs that will move our economy forward,” said SBA Puerto Rico District Director Yvette T. Collazo. “This report confirms something we already know: entrepreneurship is at the core of the island’s economic development and continues to be instrumental in achieving self-sustainability.”

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 signed into law by President Trump additionally designated the island as an opportunity zone. As such, Puerto Rico has 863 designated opportunity zones, including 837 low-income communities. With a median household income of $19,913, Puerto Rico will additionally benefit from increased economic development and job creation achieved through this new program.

“This is an exciting time to start or grow a small business in Puerto Rico. Opportunity Zones will further stimulate the local economy, spurring capital investment and accelerating job creation. It’s commonsense to expect additional small business creation and growth this year due to increased entrepreneurial activity,” Regional Administrator Bulger added.


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality.

As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster.

It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit