SBA Extends Community Navigator Pilot Application Deadline
The deadline for the Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot program has been pushed from July 12 to July 23. The initiative will give $100 million in $1 and $5 million grants to organizations dedicated to helping small businesses recover from the pandemic.
These organizations will then assist small businesses with recovery for two years, through counseling, networking, or serving as a connection to available government resources. The SBA estimates that its funds will be distributed in September.
The SBA recognized that the previous rounds of government relief helped many businesses stay afloat. Still, many more small and minority-owned companies drew the short straw compared to larger enterprises. To offset that, the Community Navigator Pilot program partners with organizations that are well-connected with their communities and can reach underserved businesses better than federal government organizations could on their own.
In the press release that announced the deadline change, Mark Madrid, an SBA associate administrator, said: “This program is designed to empower a hyperlocal approach through a national network of community navigators who are on the ground truly connecting, empathizing, and tailoring solutions for our small businesses during critical recovery.”
This program was approved by Congress earlier this year as part of the American Rescue Plan. While Biden’s administration made tweaks to the previous rounds of funding to include smaller enterprises, it soon became apparent that the system was still largely inefficient. For example, the SBA’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund established a priority system for the underserved, only to both run out of funds too quickly and fail to aid the underprivileged communities it meant to. As a result, many restaurants closed their doors, unable to continue their operations without that help. The necessity of external relief is illustrated by the fact that 42% percent of small businesses applied for some sort of aid in 2020, either through these grants or from lenders offering small-business loans.
Some organizations eligible for the Community Navigator Pilot program and its funds are local and state governments, small-business development centers, nonprofit universities and colleges, and Community Development Financial Institutions.
The Community Navigator Pilot program should start on September 1, 2021, and last for two years, until August 31, 2023. The SBA highly recommends that entities not listed in the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) start their registration process as soon as possible.
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