On May 25, the Small Business Administration launched its new $100 million Community Navigator Pilot Program. Established in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the program will offer grants to state and local governments, among other eligible applicants, to provide technical assistance to underserved small businesses, including micro and rural businesses, with an emphasis on those owned by women, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. SBA is accepting applications through July 12, 2021 and expects to make award decisions by August. The maximum grant award to a local government will be $2.5 million. Click here to view the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the program.
While SBA has provided a substantial amount of assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other pandemic relief programs, many small businesses, particularly those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, have had difficulty accessing critical federal resources. The Community Navigator Pilot Program seeks to tackle this issue by providing underserved small businesses with technical assistance on SBA COVID-19 pandemic relief programs.
The Program will follow a ‘hub-and-spoke’ approach to connecting underserved small businesses with support services. Under the model, a lead organization (hub) with expertise in economic development will work with a network of grassroots organizations (spokes), which will serve as trusted community ambassadors. The emphasis on community organizations is intended to ensure traditionally underserved businesses can access and utilize critical economic recovery programs.
Through workforce training, business attraction and retention and other community and economic development activities, counties are deeply invested in the health and viability of their local economies. Counties across the country have taken action to support their small businesses with financial and technical assistance and welcome the launch of the Community Navigator Pilot Program. As the nation pivots towards recovery, counties are working diligently at the local level to ensure that traditionally underserved communities are not left behind.
- SBA COVID-19 relief options
- Community Navigator Pilot Program Overview
- Community Navigator Pilot Program NOFO