Thanks to a $1 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Startup Sioux Falls is piloting an expanded version of its CO.STARTERS accelerator program to better reach underserved communities.
The SBA announced the grant opportunity—the Community Navigator Pilot Program—in May 2021 with the goal of bringing business support to underserved entrepreneurs. The program is part of the American Rescue Plan initiative which aims to provide assistance during economic recovery. Startup Sioux Falls is one of 51 grantees nationwide to receive the funding; the project will take place over two years.
“We know that the accelerator program has traction, and we were looking down the road, maybe five years from now, thinking eventually we'd be able to modify the program to serve more people. Then this grant came along, and it was clear to us that this was our opportunity.”
- Brienne, Maner
Executive Director, Startup Sioux Falls
A Hub & Spoke Model Program
The grantee of the program—a nonprofit, state or local government entity, university or tribal entity—partners with the SBA as a hub organization.
The hub then supports its selected spokes—trusted local groups or individuals who have cultural knowledge and can connect to specific sectors of the entrepreneurial community.
The hub and spoke model is a natural fit for Startup Sioux Falls, and it allows for the seamless expansion of CO.STARTERS and other business resources to underserved entrepreneurs.
Startup Sioux Falls will work with a consortium of five spoke organizations, a series of contractors, and existing partners on the project. Startup Sioux Falls will provide the training, research, and support necessary for the spoke organizations to provide the CO.STARTERS accelerator and other business resources to the communities they serve.
"That [entrepreneurial] ecosystem can help people see themselves as entrepreneurs and help the community to support those entrepreneurs. It can be a win-win for the entrepreneur and the community. There is so much potential in communities when they focus on entrepreneurship. We are excited to move the needle on this initiative in rural South Dakota and both now and into the future.”
- Paula Jensen
Vice President for Development, Dakota Resources
“Lakota country is filled with passionate, talented teams and individuals that do everything from construction and cooking, to beading and painting. With CO.STARTERS, we are excited to provide the clerical and structural support to enhance business sustainability within our community.”
Regenerative Economy Development Director, Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation
As they prepare for and execute this project, each of the community spokes will be seeking out entrepreneurial leaders in their communities to serve as partners and mentors. If you’re interested in connecting with any of the spoke organizations to serve in this way, reach out to Startup Sioux Falls.
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