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Jan 11, 2023

Our conversation today is part of an ongoing partnership with the US Small Business Administration highlighting small businesses as well as offering advice and resources to small businesses.

We talked with Martin Short, Lead Economic Development Specialist & Public Information Officer at the Virginia-Richmond District Office for the US Small Business Administration about a new program: Community Navigators.

The Community Navigator Pilot Program is an American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs often face in accessing the programs they need to recover, grow, or start their businesses. The program will provide a total of $100 million in funding to 51 organizations that will work with hundreds of local community groups to improve access to SBA and government resources for America’s entrepreneurs. 

The selected projects will cover diverse communities across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Grantees will serve as “hubs” -- centralized, lead organizations, which will incorporate “spokes,” organizations that have built trust in their local communities and will be the ‘boots on the ground’ that will connect small businesses to critical resources and assistance, including:

  • financial assistance and access to capital
  • contracting and procurement
  • marketing, operations, business development, and exporting
  • industry-specific training

The Community Navigator for the Shenandoah Valley is Shenandoah Community Capital Fund. The Shenandoah Community Capital Fund (SCCF), formerly known as the Staunton Creative Community Fund, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit entrepreneurial support organization serving the entire Shenandoah Valley. Over the past 14 years the organization has expanded and innovated alongside the region’s entrepreneurs to become one of the lead conveners in the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Since 2019, SCCF has responded to a gradual transition in the region’s entrepreneurial landscape. This shift sparked a new focus within SCCF, and the organization embraced an entrepreneurial ecosystem-building approach to economic and community development. Although SCCF’s mission has broadened, the organization has retained an emphasis on equity and accessibility and on creating pathways to entrepreneurship for all communities in the Shenandoah Valley.

As a result, SCCF, along with 17 partner organizations, created the first region-wide ecosystem collaboration in the Valley. Through the support of a GO Virginia grant, SCCF launched the Startup Shenandoah Valley (S2V) program and continues to support entrepreneurs and business owners of all backgrounds in the Shenandoah Valley.