VtSBDC Selected as a “Hub” Grantee in SBA’s Community Navigator Program, With Nine “Spokes” – Vermont Biz | Region & Cash

Vermont Business Magazine As part of a national initiative launched by President Biden and Vice President Harris, the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) was selected as one of 51 grant recipients statewide to participate in the US Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Program. There were more than 700 submissions to the program.

According to SBA, the Community Navigator pilot program is designed to “remove barriers that all small businesses — including those owned by disadvantaged groups such as veterans, women and people from rural communities — often face when trying to access critical support.”

As one of 11 Tier 2 grantees, VtSBDC will receive $2.5 million to fund the program over two years. Tier 2 grantees support a single state, region, municipality or city with a total service population of at least 500,000.

“We are pleased to be selected for the Tier 2 grant and to be working with nine Vermont partner organizations on this two-year project,” said Linda Rossi, State Director of VtSBDC. “We look forward to this extraordinary opportunity to use our experience to support entrepreneurship development in Vermont and support small business growth in our state. This grant will fund a range of services delivered by the Nine Spokes and allow us to make important strides toward our shared goals for targeted communities: communities of color, women, veterans and rural communities.”

The Community Navigator pilot program uses a “hub and spoke” model with VtSBDC as the hub and nine spoke organizations that will create collective impact. Together, they will leverage partnerships with deeply trusted, community-based organizations to help small businesses navigate government resources and unlock critical resources, according to the SBA’s plan.

A link to the project and planned activities and services now available from each of the nine spokes can be found here:

Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP) | Vermont Small Business Development Center (vtsbdc.org)

In preparation for the grant application, VtSBDC facilitated many discovery meetings and one-to-one sessions to review, discuss and understand current research, surveys and COVID-related experiences with the target populations. These meetings highlighted the obstacles that target audiences continue to face, and which have become more difficult due to COVID-19, to achieve consensus among potential speakers to define the focus of the Community Navigator’s two-year fellowship.

The “Spoke” partner organizations are:

Vermont Law School (VLS)

Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) financial futures program.

Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF)

Center for Women and Business (CWEVT)

Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation (CVEDC)

Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC)

Association of School Principals of Vermont (VPA)

Vermont Professionals of Color Network (VT POC)

Main Street Alliance-Vermont (MSA-VT)

The balanced network of partner organizations recruited by VtSBDC will help fill the four identified gap areas: financial, digital and legal literacy, while at the same time fostering cultural knowledge, awareness and greater sensitivity through diversity, equity and Inclusion needs to be improved throughout Vermont’s technical assistance provider network.

“The Main Street Alliance of Vermont is thrilled to be an Outreach Spoke in the Community Navigator pilot program,” said Morgan Nichols, Main Street Alliance’s New England regional manager State and take time to listen carefully. Our main priority is to understand what is working well and how Vermont could better serve our small businesses so we can level the playing field and create a fairer small business economy.

In addition to speakers, VtSBDC has many partners who can be involved in broader communications and serve as host sites for Community Navigator activities, including economic development and technical assistance partners, as well as state and regional chambers of commerce, banks, libraries, schools and more.

“The Biden-Harris administration has prioritized better building our small business ecosystems so that all of our entrepreneurs have a fair chance to achieve the American Dream of business ownership,” said Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “We need to meet businesses where they have resources to launch, grow and be resilient, and the Community Navigator pilot program will power a trusted network of community partners to connect America’s entrepreneurs to the SBA. The program’s Community Navigators will build strong relationships with highly trusted community-based organizations that draw on individual, targeted support through programs designed to help them create jobs and drive innovation.”

For the SBA press release on the Community Navigator Grant, CLICK HERE.

For more information about VtSBDC, see the website at vtsbdc.org.

RANDOLPH CENTER, Vt. (14 January 2022) – VtSBDC

Author: Amine

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