New $2.5M grant to help Wyoming entrepreneurs access critical resources

(Stock Photo)

(Fremont County, WY) – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network a $2.5 million grant to implement the SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Program in Wyoming.

The goal of the Community Navigator Pilot Program is to reduce barriers that all small businesses, including those owned by disadvantaged groups such as veterans, women and those from rural communities and communities of color, often face in accessing critical support.

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“Supporting entrepreneurs is part of the University of Wyoming’s land-grant mission and a key aspect of our strategic plan,” says Steve Farkas, associate vice president for economic development in UW’s Office of Research and Economic Development, which oversees the Wyoming SBDC Network. “The Community Navigator Pilot Program will bring much-needed assistance and resources to all small-business owners throughout the state, aligning perfectly with the efforts of the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.”

The Community Navigator Pilot Program uses a “hub and spoke” model from public health care federal programming. Grantee “hubs” — such as the Wyoming SBDC Network — will serve as centralized, lead organizations and will incorporate “spokes” to leverage partnerships with deeply trusted, community-based organizations to help small businesses navigate government resources and tap into critical resources.

Wyoming’s “spokes” include:

  • UW Extension.
  • Wyoming Women’s Business Center.
  • Wind River Development Fund.
  • Wyoming Smart Capital Network.
  • The Local Crowd.
  • The Laramie County Library System (Library to Business).

The Wyoming SBDC Network and 50 other organizations were selected to operate this program from more than 700 nationwide applicants. The SBA’s review process ensures compliance, objectivity and integrity that allowed all applicants an opportunity to demonstrate the impact the SBA’s support of their organizations could have on their communities. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 created the Community Navigator Pilot Program, and the funding will be used over two years.

“Being selected through such a competitive process is a reflection of the Wyoming SBDC Network’s successful track record of assisting, educating and training small businesses and our ongoing efforts to support the diversification of the state’s economy,” says Jill Kline, state director of the Wyoming SBDC Network. “While these funds will not be disbursed directly to small businesses, the grant will allow the Wyoming SBDC Network — the ‘hub’ — and the ‘spokes’ to expand services and outreach to help entrepreneurs successfully have a greater impact on the state’s economy.”

For more information on the SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Program, visit www.sba.gov/navigators.

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