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SBA seeking applicants to help disadvantaged businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Wednesday it is seeking grant applicants through July 20 to award up to $1.5 million to promote the development, success and long-term survival of disadvantaged small businesses participating in the agency’s 8(a) Business Development Program.

Businesses in the SBA’s 8(a) program are owned and controlled by at least 51 percent by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The nine-year program is divided into two phases — a four-year development stage and a five-year transition stage.

The SBA anticipates awarding six to 10 grants ranging from $150,000 to $250,000. Two grants may go to small businesses but monies can not be used by small businesses themselves as a source of funding to expand an individual enterprise.

“The agency continuously seeks to broaden and enrich the range of services that it offers its clients, in this case most firms owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and firms located substantively in areas of high unemployment and/or low income,” wrote Art Collins of the SBA in an email. “Broad notices of funding opportunities like this are mechanisms for bringing forth fresh approaches to providing assistance, and new types of assistance responding to environmental change — especially economic change.”

Specifically, the SBA is looking for projects providing specialized training, executive education and tools to promote business development.

“I encourage all relevant organizations to take a serious look at this grant opportunity,” West Virginia SBA West Virginia District Office director Judy McCauley said in a press release. “This is a fabulous way to help small businesses all over the country while creating jobs in West Virginia.”

The most recent Survey of Business Owners provided by 2007 census data shows West Virginia does not have enough black-owned firms to meet publication standards as a percentage. From that same data set, West Virginia had 3.7 percent minority-owned firms.

Nationwide, minority-owned firms accounted for 21.3 percent of overall firms and black-owned firms accounted for 7.1 percent.

Grant applicants may be for-profit and non-profit but must have been in existence continually for the last three years, demonstrate substantive experience dealing with small business issues and demonstrate the capacity to provide assistance to small businesses.

Grants will be awarded by Sept. 30.

Reach Caitlin Cook at or 304-348-5113.

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