The president of the Puerto Rico United Retailers Center (CUD), Jorge Argüelles, said Wednesday that the number of businesses that had to close in the western municipalities that were devastated by the earthquakes in early January was worrisome.

“49.5 percent of the businesses are closed at the moment. 33.1 percent closed temporarily, 55.4 percent are permanently closed. 5.1 percent said they were closed without specifying the duration and another 5.78 percent reported they are about to close, and that is really worrying,” Argüelles said in a NotiUno radio interview.

He said the data derive from an online survey conducted with Colmena66, a business support network that operates under the direction of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust. He indicated that the survey is ongoing and about 330 businesses in the area have responded.

The retailer association head stressed that the number could be much higher.

“The United Center has some 155 members in the southern area and the information we have is that everyone has been impacted in some way by these earthquakes,” Argüelles said, adding that although some ​​Ponce businesses were not damaged, they cannot operate while the surrounding streets remain closed.

Argüelles said the Economic Development and Commerce Department has a $2,500 stipend for businesses. In the case of Yauco, the municipality added $500 for affected businesses. Other entities such as the Small Business Administration also offer assistance to business owners.