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By J. Michael Bowman
State Director, Delaware SBDC
It’s no secret that owning a business comes with big risks and great rewards. In today’s economy, however, the rewards of business ownership seem harder to come by…and now more than ever, businesses of all types and sizes are facing unprecedented economic and societal challenges that threaten their very existence. These challenges are even more profound for small business owners and entrepreneurs from underserved communities.
That’s where the University of Delaware’s Small Business Development Center (DSBDC) comes into play. Thanks to a $2.5M grant from U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), DSBDC is working diligently to expand supportive services for historically underserved businesses throughout the State of Delaware. Specifically, DBSDC organized a statewide coalition to compete for a grant under the SBA’s newly launched Community Navigator Pilot Program, an initiative designed to reduce barriers underserved communities face in accessing critical support.
According to John Fleming, SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, “The Delaware SBDC was selected through a rigorous national grant competition as one of only eleven recipients of a $2.5M Navigator Grant. Utilizing a new “hub and spoke” model, DSBDC’s Navigator Pilot Program will help level the playing field for Delaware’s underserved entrepreneurs, especially people of color, individuals with disabilities, and business owners in rural and low-income communities. The SBDC will serve as the “hub” and leverage partnerships with trusted community-based “spoke” organizations to help small businesses navigate and tap into critical resources.”
Read the SBA’s official announcement here: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/oct/28/sba-administrator-guzman-biden-harris-administration-announce-community-navigator-pilot-program
The Delaware Navigator program partners recently launched planning efforts and will be announcing a robust set of program offerings in the spring. The program will serve entrepreneurs from Claymont to Selbyville – with industry expertise and resources related to business start-up, operations, finance, marketing, and more.
According to Denita Henderson, DSBDC Associate State Director and Navigator Program Director, “We are excited to lead a Navigator Network with spokes like the State of Delaware’s Division of Small Business and Office of Supplier Diversity, Delaware’s “Main Street” Network, Delaware State University, Independent Resources, Inc., United Way of Delaware, NCALL, Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Delaware Hispanic Commission. During the MLK season of service, it is most fitting for the state’s leading resource agencies to work together to advance a more equitable and inclusive economic landscape for Blacks, Latinos, individuals with disabilities, and entrepreneurs in low-to-moderate income and rural communities.”
Delaware Division of Small Business Director, Jordan Schulties added, “Small businesses throughout our state, and particularly those in underserved communities, continue to face extraordinary challenges related to the pandemic, workforce shortages, supply chain issues, and access to capital. The Navigator Program provides a unique opportunity for our statewide ecosystem to assess its strengths and deliver collaborative solutions to help business owners overcome these challenges by connecting them with SBA resources. We look forward to working with DSBDC and the other spokes on this mission to support Delaware’s small business owners in underserved communities.”
The Navigator Network is seeking input from the business community to help guide the program planning and development process. To share your valued feedback, take a short anonymous survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NAVI-Needs
Stay in the know on the Navigator Program by joining the Navigator mailing list here: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/LO3r1oR/NavigatorList and following the Delaware SBDC on social media!
Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.