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October 28, 2021 | Tom Ballard

SBA announces 51 “Community Navigator” grant recipients, only one from Tennessee

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced in a virtual event yesterday the 51 recipients who will share $100 million in funding under its recently launched “Community Navigator Program.”

Noting that the federal agency received 700 submissions, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said the number “far outpaced our expectations.” The program is another component of the Biden Administration’s “American Rescue Plan” initiative designed 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.

As best as we can tell, there was only one direct recipient in Tennessee, and it was an organization named BLDG Memphis, but it would appear that several of what are termed Tier 1 recipients will provide services that could touch the Volunteer State. One of those is the National Urban League which, according to President and Chief Executive Officer Marc Morial, will execute its responsibilities “through our affiliates.”

Grants range from $1 million to $5 million over the course of two years. Tier 1 recipients, which have the largest geographic reach, number eight and were awarded up to $5 million. There were 11 Tier 2 recipients who will receive up to $2.5 million each and 32 Tier 3 recipients who are eligible to receive up to $1 million each.

The website for BLDG Memphis, a Tier 3 recipient, says the organization, formerly known as the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis, is a coalition of organizations and individuals who support the equitable redevelopment of healthy, vibrant, attractive, and economically sustainable neighborhoods throughout the city. Its four-letter name is an acronym for the words build, live, develop, and grow.

There were three Tier 2 winners from neighboring states: (1) Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center; (2) Georgia Micro Enterprise Network; and (3) South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development. Also, besides Arkansas, four of the other 11 Tier 2 recipients were Small Business Development Centers.

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