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Business Organizations to Receive Support From Community Navigators Under American Rescue Plan

  • Community Navigator Pilot Program to be launched as part of American Rescue Plan initiatives
  • $100 million in grants will be made available to eligible community partners to help improve access to COVID-19 relief programs
  • Funding will also make improvements at U.S. Small Business Administration, including establishment of call center

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Business organizations across the United States will be eligible for millions of dollars in grant funding as part of the Community Navigator Pilot Program that was approved through the American Rescue Plan.

The program includes $100 million for grants to participating organizations. The grants will be available to a variety of entities, including community organizations, community financial institutions, nonprofits, local governments, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and SCORE chapters. Funding can be used for purposes such as hiring staff, outreach, and technical assistance to help improve access to COVID-19 relief programs.

Rep. Jared Golden, a member of the House Committee on Small Business, said the Community Navigator Pilot Program aims to bring aid to rural, agricultural, and minority-owned small businesses that have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 impact. He said many of these businesses were still recovering from the effects of the Great Recession when the pandemic struck, faced challenges accessing funding in the first rounds of Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan relief, and often encounter additional hurdles such as limited access to capital or insufficient broadband internet to pivot to digital services.

The bill states that the services will be provided free of charge, and that the U.S. Small Business Administration can also enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with qualifying organizations. The services will support all small businesses, but give priority to those owned by women and veterans as well as socially or economically disadvantaged businesses.

Another $75 million will support education and outreach efforts to be overseen by the SBA. This funding will be used to update the SBA website, establish a call center to provide information or make referrals to local partners, make services available in the 10 most common languages after English, and launch a media education campaign targeted at underserved communities.

Funding will remain available through Sept. 30, 2022.

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