$ 2.5 million grant to encourage small business development in underserved communities | Business

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The Arkansas Center for Small Business and Technology Development at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock received a $ 2.5 million grant to engage in targeted outreach activities with small businesses in underserved communities.

A center office is located at Southern Arkansas University.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) provided competitive funding under the Community Navigator pilot program administered by the SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurship Education.

“The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is pleased to be one of the programs selected to participate in the SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Program,” said Michael Singleton, Associate State Director of ASBTDC and principal investigator of the project. “We know that not all groups and individuals have had the resources and capital to start or grow their business. We are excited about the opportunity to use this program to ensure that all entrepreneurs and small business owners in Arkansas have the tools and resources to be successful. “

The Community Navigator pilot program, part of the American Rescue Plan initiative, is designed to reduce the barriers all small businesses, including those from underrepresented and underserved groups, often face in accessing critical support .

In the Community Navigator approach, trusted community partners act as “reasons”. Each ray will reach specific sectors of the state’s entrepreneurial community. As a “hub”, ASBTDC will provide centralized support and structure for the shelves.

– The spokes of the Arkansas Community Navigator include:

– Arkansas Human Development Society

– Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce

– Arkansas Central Library System

– East Arkansas Corporate Community

– Phoenix Youth and Family Services

– University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service

The ASBTDC will also develop and share shelf tools and provide market research and specialist expertise to businesses.

The Arkansas Community Navigator project aims to help companies access capital, business development, contracting and sourcing, marketing, operations and exporting. This project will enable ASBTDC and its partners to help small businesses address and overcome some of the systemic challenges faced by entrepreneurs in underrepresented communities.

“These organizations will meet nascent and existing entrepreneurs at all levels, provide a clear path to achieving their small business goals, and provide them with knowledge, tools and access,” Singleton said.

By leveraging and empowering existing community-engaged and culturally informed organizations and programs, Project Navigator will provide the platform to equip small businesses and entrepreneurs in minority, rural and other underserved communities across the country. State.

“We want all small businesses in Arkansas to have access to the comprehensive, relevant and comprehensive services needed to persist during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath,” Singleton said.

The SBA’s previous pandemic relief programs for small businesses included the Paycheck Protection Program and the COVID Economic Disaster Loan. Arkansas has nearly 250,000 small businesses, and less than a quarter of them received PPP funding in 2020. Analysis of PPP and EIDL funds distributed in 2020 found that not all communities benefited. equally programs.

This disparity has been underscored by recent studies conducted by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

The ASBTDC is one of 51 organizations to receive a combined total of $ 100 million in funding under the Community Navigator Pilot Program. The organizations will work with hundreds of local groups to connect American entrepreneurs to government resources so they can recover and thrive.

“The Arkansas Human Development Corporation has partnered with ASBTDC on many initiatives since the mid-1980s, and we are honored to be part of the Community Navigator initiative which will expand the menu of support services. quality technical and commercial services to rural communities and isolated populations, ”said Clevon Young, executive director of AHDC.

The ASBTDC plans to provide training and technical assistance to more than 5,000 new and existing small business owners during the two-year project.


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