SBA Navigator Program Offering Grants up to $5M for State & Local Govts to Assist Small Businesses

The Small Business Administration will provide a total of $100 million to eligible institutions, including state and local governments, to assist underserved businesses.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) last week announced that it is accepting applications for its new Community Navigator Pilot Program. This new initiative, established by the American Rescue Plan, aims to leverage a community navigator approach to reach the nation’s smallest businesses, with a priority focus on those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as women and veterans.

The Community Navigator Notice of Funding Opportunity will be open to applications from nonprofit organizations, state, local, and tribal governments, SBA resource partners, and other organizations.  Selected partners will engage in targeted outreach for small businesses in underserved communities to help small businesses get the resources and support they need to get back on track as the economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our small business owners—especially those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, people of color, women, veterans, and Native Americans—they need us the most, and they need us now,” said SBA Associate Administrator for the Office for Entrepreneurial Development Mark Madrid. “This initiative underscores our Agency’s commitment to connecting distressed small business resources with SBA resources and grant funding.”

Competitive grant awards will range from one million to five million for a two-year performance period. Applicants have until July 12, 2021, to submit their applications at grants.gov. Performance periods are projected to commence in September 2021.

According to an SBA press release:

“The Community Navigator Pilot Program is a crucial addition to our SBA programs because it helps us to connect with small businesses that have historically been underserved or left behind. These businesses – the smallest of the small in rural and urban America, and those owned by women, people of color, or veterans – have suffered the greatest economic loss from this pandemic,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “We’ll be using a hub and spoke model in local regions across the nation to bridge the gap between local entrepreneurs and SBA’s resources and programs. If we’re going to build back better, we need to ensure that all entrepreneurs have the support they need to recover.”

In February 2021, Congress met to provide a blueprint on assistance to small businesses with provisions under the American Rescue Plan. Members of Congress met with constituents to discover at local levels the impact of the pandemic and the effect it is having on businesses that may have been left out in early rounds of relief.

Key in this initiative are partners and people in the community, serving as a two-way information stream, enabling enterprising business owners to receive the help needed from the SBA. Serving as the foundation of America’s economy, these underserved businesses have areas of concern that need to be addressed. Community Navigator Pilot will provide counseling, networking, and the assistance needed during this time of economic recovery.

For more information on the Community Navigators Initiative, please visit www.sba.gov/navigators.

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