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Puerto Rico is Ready to Work. ¡Ahora!

The President is focused every day on strengthening the American economy and creating good jobs.

The President is focused every day on strengthening the American economy and creating good jobs. As part of his year of action, the President will do whatever he can to help put Americans back to work.  Just last week, the Obama Administration announced several steps to promote employment opportunities, including a U.S. Labor Department grant of $7 million to develop the Puerto Rico Technoeconomic Corridor which will promote job training for the long-term unemployed. This grant was announced  as part of a nearly $170 million "Ready to Work" programs to support and scale innovative collaborations between employers, nonprofit organizations and federal job training programs to help connect ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.

Federal funds of $7,026,880 will be allocated to Puerto Rico’s Technoeconomic Corridor to provide long-term unemployed workers with individualized counseling, training, supportive and specialized services that lead to rapid employment in the western municipalities of Aguada, Aguadilla, Añasco, Moca, Rincón, Cabo Rojo, Lajas, Hormigueros, Maricao, Las Marias, Mayagüez, San Germán, Sabana Grande, Isabela, Guánica, Quebradillas and San Sebastián.  The Puerto Rico Technoeconomic Corridor is a non-profit established to enable Puerto Rico’s economic development by stimulating innovation-inducing collaborations among industry, academia and government.

This grant aligns closely with the job-driven training principles outlined in Vice President Biden’s report reviewing federal employment and training programs, which highlights successful job-driven training strategies, details executive actions that are being taken by the Federal Government, and includes new commitments by employers, non-profits, unions and innovators to share best practices and help Americans attain and advance in in-demand jobs and careers.

This grant follows a significant investment announced in April 2014 by Puerto Rico’s Governor and the Department of Commerce regarding Lufthansa Technik’s plans to build a new aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul ("MRO") facility in Puerto Rico to service short-haul and medium-haul aircraft. The government of Puerto Rico secured this investment through the efforts of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico, the Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA’s program and the advocacy of several high-level U.S. officials, including the Vice President and the Secretary of Commerce.

And today, the Department of Agriculture announced $237 million in new funding for 91 projects in 38 states, including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to establish broadband and wireless internet services, install infrastructure, and provide advanced communications technology to help rural public television stations complete the transition from analog to digital broadcast signals. This funding will provide critical resources to further bolster Puerto Rico’s economic development. The Obama Administration is committed to working through the Puerto Rico Task Force to identify collaborations that will advance Puerto Rico’s economic development priorities. This recent grant and initiatives to help long-term unemployed with opportunities to get back to work and maximize their full potential are part of a series of steps taken by the President to continue to expand opportunity for all and ensure that Puerto Rico’s best days are ahead. 

Chris Lu is the Deputy Secretary of Labor. James Albino is the Executive Director of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico.