The US Small Business Administration (SBA) launched the Community Navigator Pilot Program, a $100 million grant program enacted through the American Rescue Plan Act, which will provide counseling, networking and the assistance needed during this time of economic recovery to the nation’s smallest businesses. The program will target small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as women and veterans.
The SBA will engage with states, local governments, SBA resource partners, and other organizations in targeted outreach efforts. These partners and people in the community are key to this pilot program as they will serve as a two-way information stream, enabling enterprising business owners to receive the help needed from the SBA. These efforts began with SBA issuing an Information Notice that offers advice and guidance on best practices for adopting the community navigator model for use by SBA district offices, state and local government partners, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs), SCORE, and other resource partners.
Competitive grant awards will range from $1 million to $5 million for a two-year performance period. Applicants have until July 12, 2021, to submit their applications at https://www.grants.gov/. Performance periods are projected to commence in September 2021. Those eligible to apply must meet and demonstrate abilities to support the requirements of this funding opportunity.
Although states are lifting many of the onerous Covid-19 restrictions and economic activity is ticking back up, many small businesses still have a long way to go to recover from the hardships caused by the pandemic. Small businesses still in need of financial assistance may take advantage of the increased lending limit to the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Small businesses owners must also be aware that the Paycheck Protection Program has ended.