NEW YORK – The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today released a podcast on community investment opportunities in Puerto Rico, including projects focused on renewable energy, affordable housing, and incubating start-ups.
The podcast, "Bank Notes: Recovery and Resilience in Puerto Rico," highlights interviews from a January 2020 meeting the New York Fed hosted with Puerto Rico's nonprofit leaders as part of Investment Connection in Puerto Rico, an effort to match financial institutions and other capital providers with community development organizations in Puerto Rico. The leaders interviewed for Bank Notes discussed the need for community investment on the island following Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the 2019 earthquake. They detailed the work they're doing, which ranges from a plan to renovate a small town's theater to an effort to build rural solar-powered microgrids.
"The missing piece is capital," Michael Carroll, lending director for Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation, told Bank Notes. "A little bit of capital goes a long way here."
Some of the projects described on Bank Notes, which were also part of the Investment Connection program in Puerto Rico, include:
- A proposal from Jesus Obrero Cooperativa, a local credit union with 60 years of experience working with communities, to build four rural microgrids, each of which would be powered by solar panels on the homes of ten families.
- A proposal from Lendreams to raise money for pre-development loans for nonprofit developers building affordable housing.
- A proposal from Parallel18, a global startup accelerator, to identify and invest in the island's entrepreneurs and their businesses.
Sixty percent of children in Puerto Rico grow up in poverty, said Eduardo Carrera, president of the Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico. The lasting effects of childhood poverty and poor schools result in an estimated $4.4 billion annually in lost productivity and revenue for the island.
Carrera, who was a Boys and Girls Club member as a child, said, "I can I go back to the communities where I grew up and see that most friends and family were not afforded the same opportunities. … Until that last person in the community has an equal chance, our work is not done."