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SBA Launches Community Navigator Program to Provide Assistance to Nation’s Smallest Businesses

  • U.S. Small Business Administration officially launches its Community Navigator Pilot Program
  • Initiative aims to provide targeted assistance to very small and underserved businesses
  • SBA is partnering with local business organizations to provide technical assistance such as counseling and networking

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The U.S. Small Business Administration has officially launched its Community Navigator Pilot Program, inviting qualifying organizations to apply for funding to provide technical assistance to the nation’s smallest businesses.

The $100 million grant program, enacted through the American Rescue Plan, is designed to provide targeted assistance to “mom and pop” companies as well as businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, whom the SBA says were often left behind during COVID-19 relief efforts. The Community Navigator Pilot Program seeks to connect with trusted local resources to provide services such as counseling and networking.

Applications for the competitive grant program are being accepted through July 12. Recipients can qualify for grants of $1 million to $5 million for a two-year performance period, with these periods set to commence in September.

The SBA previously issued advice and best guidance on how the program can be adopted by local agencies, including:

  • SBA district offices
  • Community financial institutions
  • State and local government partners
  • Small Business Development Centers
  • Women’s Business Centers
  • Veterans Business Outreach Centers

The program’s launch corresponds with the expiration of most COVID-19 programs administered by the SBA. The Paycheck Protection Program is allocating its last funds before the program expires on May 31, applications closed for the Restaurant Relief Fund on Monday, and the SBA is set to distribute Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program funding next week. Businesses can still apply for traditional SBA loans as well as Economic Injury Disaster Loans or debt relief for existing loans.

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