WASHINGTON – The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that for the second year, the SBA is launching an Accelerator Growth Fund competition for accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models to compete for monetary prizes of $50,000 each, totaling $4 million. The application period is from April 10-June 1 and information about the application process can be found at:

“We’re launching a second Accelerator Growth Fund competition to spur even greater opportunities for America’s small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.  “Last year’s event was so successful, we’re looking forward to discovering and empowering the next trailblazers.  Accelerators provide valuable resources to potential startups: a physical infrastructure to work in their infancy, mentoring, business-plan assistance, networking, opportunities to obtain venture capital, and introductions to potential customers, partners and suppliers—all critical elements to ensuring that small businesses flourish and succeed.”

Similar to last year’s competition, several panels containing expert judges from the private and public sector with collective experience in early stage investing, entrepreneurship, academia, start-ups and economic development will select the winners.  The competition includes accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, shared tinker-spaces or other models.  The panel will give particular attention to, applicants that fill geographic gaps in the accelerator and entrepreneurial ecosystem space.

Through this competition, the SBA is looking to support the development of accelerators and their support of startups in parts of the country where there are fewer conventional sources of access to capital (i.e., venture capital and other investors).

In addition, the SBA is also seeking accelerators headed by women and those that support them or other underrepresented groups. Thirty-two percent of last year’s accelerator winners were run by women and 14 percent were classified as underrepresented groups.

Manufacturing accelerator models will be given special consideration during this year’s competition, because they are critical to job growth and strengthening the nation’s economy.

Please click hereDownload Adobe Reader to read this link content for the Accelerator Growth Fact Sheet and specifics on how to apply and the timeline for 2015’s competition.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today its support for entrepreneurial ecosystem development in eight communities through “ScaleUp America.”  This new initiative is designed to provide the necessary support to help companies scale up and grow, while strengthening and enhancing local entrepreneurial ecosystems around the specific needs of growth-oriented entrepreneurs and firms resulting in their ability to produce measurable economic impact and job growth in local communities.

“Today the SBA is announcing funding support for eight communities that will help scalable small firms grow and create jobs,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.  “Ninety-two percent of new jobs come from the expansion of existing businesses.  We are bringing our successful entrepreneurship education programs to underserved communities, bridging the gaps for those in greatest need across the country. This intensive SBA support will create jobs and support a diverse cross-section of communities across our great nation.”

The eight ScaleUp awardees were selected from more than 60 applicants to participate in the inaugural group of communities represent a wide range of diverse geographic areas and organizations.  From urban to rural, the applicants focused on filling the gap in services for growth-oriented small businesses with average annual revenue of $150,000 to $500,000.

SBA’s funding will be provided to each ScaleUp community’s organizing entity to strengthen opportunities for small businesses within the community.  The funds will be used to deliver a proven entrepreneurship education curriculum for growth-oriented entrepreneurs and small businesses; provide on-going one-on-one support, mentoring and technical assistance; assistance and connections to growth capital; and opportunities to build and strengthen connections and networks in their community.

The ScaleUp America communities include:

StartUp Tucson, Community of focus:  Tucson, Ariz.

StartUp Tucson, a nonprofit organization, has developed entrepreneurship ecosystem through an IDEA to IMPACT strategy – a strategy that received recognition by Entrepreneur Magazine. And now, with the assistance of SBA, StartUp Tucson and several key partners will provide assistance to four cohorts of growth-oriented companies that have developed market traction, but face challenges that are distinct from the entrepreneurs at the startup-stage.

University of North Florida, Community of focus: Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), Fla.

The five-county region of Jacksonville MSA has been nationally recognized as a small business climate conducive to start-ups and second-stage companies, yet recently has experienced a loss in establishment, sales and job growth for the self-employed and Stage 1 companies.  ScaleUp North Florida will specifically seek to assist these companies through an entrepreneurship education curriculum tailored for this community, management assistance and support based on an in-depth assessment of each business’ needs, access to capital for identified graduates and opportunities to build and strengthen networks.

University of Missouri - Kansas City, Community of focus: Kansas City

Two cohorts of small businesses participating in the ScaleUp Kansas City, led by University of Missouri – Kansas City’s Innovation Center, will commence their program with the FastTrac® Listening to Your BusinessTM and FastTrac® Growth Venture™ entrepreneurship curriculum. Supplementing the curriculum, businesses will develop their growth plans through one-on-one consulting and training, experienced business mentors, workshops on energy and environmental assistance, government contracting and international trade, and will all complete a financial assessment in order to discover ways of funding their particular growth strategies.

Women’s Business Development Center, Community of focus: Aurora, Ill.

Through the ScaleUp Aurora program, the national Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), headquartered in Chicago, Ill., will fill a gap in Aurora as the city lacks an economic development center focused on accelerating the growth of small businesses and providing access to capital. The program will use the Plan for Profit 12-week program followed with individual counseling, mentors, networking events, connection to resources – both connections and streams of capital.

Your Management Team, Inc., Community of focus:  Central Ohio

Your Management Team, Inc. will fill the gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Central Ohio by targeting established small but growing main street businesses.  Each business participating in the program will develop a strategic plan shaped by their experiences in the program completing the Kauffman Foundation’sGrowthVenture™, leadership and management workshops, marketing and sales workshops and quarterly financial reviews by certified public accountants.

Supply Chain Visions LLC, Community of focus:  Roanoke, Va.

With nearly 3000 growth-oriented small businesses with annual revenues in the $150,000 to $500,000 range, Roanoke, Va. will be an ideal community for the inaugural class of ScaleUp America.  Supply Chain Visions LLC will provide the training curriculum of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership/Workshop in Business Opportunity’s (WIBO) sixteen module, intensive program, a peer-to-peer learning, workshops focused on access to capital, and business networking needed to further develop a cohesive business to business environment, particularly for underserved populations.

Supply Chain Visions LLC, Community of focus:  Greater Portland, Maine

Members in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Portland, Maine articulate a strong community and assistance for the start-up community, but identify gaps in the support network for later stage, growth-oriented companies. Supply Chain Visions LLC and their committee of the University of

Southern Maine, Gorham Savings Bank, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Blackstone Accelerates Growth (BxG), The Regional Chamber of Commerce and SBA resources partners will help fill those gaps with their ScaleUp program.

Advantage West Economic Development Group, Community of focus:  Western North Carolina

ScaleUp Western North Carolina will provide intensive business scale up assistance and leadership development to two cohorts of Western North Carolina small businesses with strong potential for growth and job creation each year.  The program, led by the Advantage West Economic Development Group, will also fulfill gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem identified in their regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) plans, and will extend a proven training curriculum to rural, underserved and underrepresented small business communities.  In addition to offering a robust program to the small businesses, Advantage West will improve the ecosystem by hosting a series of regional outreach meetings to engage community partners from across the 23-county Western North Carolina region.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the launch of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $15 million 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. Under this program, EDA is soliciting applications for three separate funding opportunities, including: the i6 Challenge, Science and Research Park Development grants, and cluster grants to support the development of Seed Capital Funds.

“President Obama and I are committed to strengthening American innovation, which is crucial for sustained economic growth and competitiveness,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The EDA Regional Innovation Strategies Program announced today, which builds on the highly successful i6 Challenge, will help spur innovation through the development and strengthening of regional innovation clusters. Innovation clusters strengthen communities by creating good jobs and growing regional economies nationwide.”

“EDA helps foster connected, innovation-centric economic sectors to support commercialization and entrepreneurship, including through regional innovation clusters,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “EDA’s new funding opportunity will provide more communities and regions with the resources they need to help local businesses start and grow. Specifically, EDA will help regions across the country develop regional innovation strategies, including proof of concept and commercialization centers, feasibility studies for the creation and expansion of science and research parks, and opportunities to close the funding gap for early-stage companies. This new funding opportunity is also an important component of the Administration’s commitment to build globally competitive regions.”

The 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Program originally started as the Regional Innovation Program under the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act of 2010. This year’s program includes $15 million in funding for the following programs:

  • i6 Challenge ($8M): Launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, the i6 Challengeis a national competition based on the most impactful national models for startup creation, innovation, and commercialization. The 2014 i6 has been broadened to include growing or expanding existing centers or programs and considering funding for later-stage Commercialization Centers, which provide opportunities for fine tuning and refinement of innovations. Special consideration will be given to programs which include initiatives focusing on innovative manufacturing and exports.
  • Science and Research Park Development Grants ($5M): The Science and Research Park Development grants program provides funding for feasibility and planning for the construction of new or expanded science or research parks, or the renovation of existing facilities.
  • Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds ($2M): These cluster grants provide funding for technical assistance to support feasibility, planning, formation, or launch of cluster-based seed capital funds that are offered to innovation-based, growth-oriented start-up companies in exchange for equity. Funds must include job creation in their consideration for issuing capital. Special consideration will be given for programs focused on innovative manufacturing and exporting.

Applicants are encouraged to refer to the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) for examples of both the i6 Challenge and Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds. There is no requirement for applicants to submit proposals for more than one of the funding opportunities under this program. Funding for all three programs is available to all communities regardless of level of distress.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that it is seeking grant proposals to award up to $1.5 million in grant funding to for-profit and non-profit service providers including, but not limited to, universities, trade and professional associations, firms, and other organizations for special projects to promote the development, success, and long-term survival of small disadvantaged businesses that participate in the agency's 8(a) Business Development Program.

The SBA expects to award 6-10 grants in the range of $150,000-$250,000, and that up to two awards may be made to small businesses. Applications will be accepted through July 20, 2014, and awards will be issued by September 30, 2014.

Under this initiative, grants will be made to service providers to enable them to make unique management and technical assistance services available to eligible small businesses that are approved by the SBA to receive services. Specifically, SBA is seeking unique and innovative projects to provide specialized training, executive education, and tools to promote business development of eligible firms. However, grants cannot be used by small businesses themselves as a source of funding to grow or otherwise expand their individual enterprises.

John Shoraka, Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development, noted that "One key strategic goal of the SBA is to genuinely broaden and deepen entrepreneurial education and counseling resources for small businesses." He added "This initiative is directly linked to that goal. The services we are now looking for will increase opportunities for potentially high-growth small businesses, especially small firms that do business with the government."

Through these projects, the SBA intends to increase the range of services available to eligible firms by addressing many issues facing them including, but not limited to:

  • teaming with other businesses;
  • mastering the process of federal contracting;
  • reversing declines and turning around businesses; and
  • securing loan financing or private equity funding.

To submit a proposal for funding under this initiative, an applicant:

  • may be a for-profit or not-for-profit entity (including, but not limited to small businesses; other-than small businesses; trade and professional associations, and educational institutions);
  • must have been in existence continually for at least three years;
  • must demonstrate substantive experience dealing with issues relating to small business; and,
  • must demonstrate that it has the capacity to provide assistance to small businesses.

DETROIT--The establishment of a new Innovation District in Detroit will be a catalyst for new jobs and small business growth throughout the city, Mayor Mike Duggan announced today.  

The announcement comes on the heels of a report released Monday by the Brookings Institution outlining how formalized Innovation Districts can facilitate new connections and ideas, accelerate the commercialization of those ideas, and support metropolitan economies.

Detroit was prominent as one of seven case studies in the report, and the Mayor’s office has been in discussions with the Brookings Institution, the New Economy Initiative of Southeast Michigan, and stakeholders in Greater Downtown and beyond about a possible formal designation for several months.  

“Everything we are doing in our city with economic development will be geared toward bringing jobs and development to neighborhoods in Detroit,” Mayor Duggan said.  “We have right now some great creative energy occuring in downtown and midtown.  The focus of the Innovation District will be to create an anchor to support neighborhood business incubators across the city.”

How the Innovation District will support  Neighborhoods:

•  Establish neighborhood small business incubators. Institutions based in the Innovation District already support local businesses across the city and will be expanding their efforts to do so.  TechTown, for example, already has established neighbhorhood offices in Brighmoor, Osborn, Jefferson East and Grandmont Rosedale and will further expand into additional neighborhoods, including Hope Village.  

• Establish entrepreneurial programs in neighborhoods. Mayor Duggan has appointed Jill Ford to his staff to lead the effort to bring entrepreneurial programs to the neighborhoods. She will bring together financial and mentoring resources to support entrepreneurs, including both high technology innovative businesses, as well as businesses that will revitalize neighborhood comercial corridors.

“Today, there are 30,000 small business entrepreneurs in Detroit.  Helping them expand their businesses is the best way to create new jobs for Detroiters and rebuild our neighborhood comercial strips,” Mayor Duggan said.   

To lead the effort, Mayor Duggan has named Nancy Schlichting, CEO of Henry Ford Health System, as Chair of a 17-person advisory committee that will develop a framework and plan towards the designation of a formal Innovation District in Greater Downtown and its development as a hub for innovation across all city neighborhoods. Henry Ford Health System established the Henry Ford Innovation Institute in 2011 with the philosophy of using innovation to improve healthcare and the patient experience.

“Powerful Assets in Place”

The Greater Downtown area of Detroit already has some of the region’s most powerful and concentrated innovation assets.  In its roughly 4.3 square miles, Greater Downtown contains 3.1% of the city’s land mass while hosting 55% of the city’s jobs. It also is home to two major medical centers, one of the country’s best design schools, three university satellite facilities, 30+ entrepreneurial service providers, and a decade of private-sector job growth.

Innovation districts have been successful in other parts of the world through focused strategies including better stakeholder coordination; innovative policy and experimentation with zoning and land use; packaged and holistic real estate marketing and investment; coordinated efforts around education, medical, digital and creative clusters; and more.

“We have seen tremendous momentum in this geography over the last several years through all of our individual efforts and hard work,” said Schlichting. “This is a unique moment in time, when we can take that momentum and very intentionally work together to leverage it in way that not only accelerates growth in Greater Downtown, but ensuring that it directly supports growth across all city neighborhoods.”

Bruce Katz, vice president of the Brookings Institution and co-author of its report, said the establishment of innovation districts has proven to create well-paying jobs in other major cities and could do so in Detroit.

“Innovation Districts work. Barcelona’s innovation district developed 4,500 new companies in less than a decade. Boston’s 1,000 acre innovation district helped usher in more than 200 new companies and more than 6,000 jobs,” Katz said.  “No city is alike, but Detroit has the distinctive assets to develop a designated district and fuel powerful economic growth.”