The South Carolina Small Business Development Centers (SC SBDC) network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs, is pleased to announce the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development (SCACED) was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to serve as the “hub” organization for South Carolina’s Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP). As part of the CNPP, the SC SBDC has been designated as one of the state’s eight participating “spoke” organizations responsible for better connecting historically underserved entrepreneurs with critical resources.
According to the SBA, the CNPP is part of a $100 million American Rescue Act initiative to help reduce the barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs face in accessing the programs and services that they need to recover, grow, or start their businesses.
“The historic Community Navigator Program catalyzes trusted community partners across America to support the smallest-of-small businesses at this pivotal juncture,” said Mark Madrid, Association Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development.
“The financial fallout from the pandemic hit small businesses in rural and underserved areas particularly hard,” said SC SBDC State Director Michele Abraham. “Empowering marginalized entrepreneurs is a top priority for the SC SBDC. Before we can turn the page on this crisis, we must first level the playing field and create a more equitable small business economy.”
Employing a “Hub and Spoke” model with SCACED serving as the state’s ‘hub,’ the Community Navigator Pilot Program relies on organizations such as the SC SBDC, to operate as ‘spokes,’ providing critical resources and assistance to underserved small businesses, including micro and rural businesses.
“The SC SBDC is honored to be a trusted partner of SCACED and serve as an outreach ‘spoke,’” said Abraham. “With our extensive statewide network, the SC SBDC is well positioned to better reach—and serve—under-engaged communities across the state and complement the main programmatic thrusts of SCACED—the ‘hub.’” As the ‘boots on the ground’ for this grassroots campaign, the SC SBDC will connect small businesses in minority, rural and other underserved sectors of the entrepreneurial community to critical resources and assistance, including:
- Financial assistance and access to capital
- Contracting and procurement
- Business development, marketing, operations and exporting
- Industry-specific training
“It is estimated that during the height of the pandemic, over 40% of minority businesses were shuttered,” said Rebecca Blackburn Hines, the SC SBDC’s CARES Act program manager. “The SC SBDC aims to help close historic and current resource gaps and advance equity by providing marginalized and underserved businesses access to our strategic support services and resources.”
The SC SBDC is currently looking to hire three additional business consultants to be strategically located in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston. To apply visit https://uscjobs.sc.edu/postings/110479
For information on the SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Program, visit https://www.scaced.org/south-carolina-community-navigator.