Startup Sioux Falls now one of 51 grantees of federal program giving a boost to underserved entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs in South Dakota just scored a huge win from the federal government. Startup Sioux Falls, a hub that offers guidance and resources to South Dakota’s budding small business orders, was one of 51 grantees to qualify for the Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Program. Brienne Maner, Executive Director of Startup Sioux Falls, said…
Entrepreneurs in South Dakota just scored a huge win from the federal government.
Startup Sioux Falls, a hub that offers guidance and resources to South Dakota’s budding small business orders, was one of 51 grantees to qualify for the Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Program.
Brienne Maner, Executive Director of Startup Sioux Falls, said she screamed when she heard the news.
“I think everyone in the building probably heard me,” Maner said.
The Community Navigator Pilot Program seeks to fund underserved entrepreneurs through investing in hubs that will offer programs to their communities.
“The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized building our small business ecosystems back better so that all of our entrepreneurs have a fair shot at achieving the American dream of business ownership,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman in a recent press release. “We need to meet businesses where they are with resources to start, grow and be resilient, and the Community Navigator Pilot Program will power a trusted network of community partners to connect America’s entrepreneurs with the SBA.”
“This validates the work that we’re doing on so many different levels and this gives us the tools to make some real change happen in this community, where we’ve been talking a lot about diversity, equity, and inclusion. And it’s just so exciting that we have the funds to take action and make and move the needle forward,” said Maner.
Startup Sioux Falls has undergone a transformation in the last year and a half, and this grant serves as a testament to their hard work.
In the interest of expanding beyond the incubation period, they partnered with Tennessee-based CO.STARTERS to bring their new business accelerator to life, now in its third cohort. With help from the SBA funds, Maner looks forward to expanding to cohorts across the state.
“We’re walking Rolodexes of information. We’re trying to help people navigate through the murky waters of our ecosystem because there are so many resources, partners, acronyms that people just don’t quite understand so we’re trying to make it easier for people to start businesses and get connected to the business community,” she said.
Per the Community Navigator Program’s “hub-spoke” strategy, Startup Sioux Falls will serve as the “hub,” the central organization receiving funds to implement its accelerator programs by partnering with communities and organizations. These “spokes” will have different cohorts through partnerships with Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Coyote Business Consulting Group, the University of South Dakota, Lutheran Social Services, and others.
“So there’s all these tentacles that are spreading across the state and different opportunities, and I know that we’re going to find more budding entrepreneurs through this process. They’re not all going to be successful, but they’re all going to have an opportunity to learn to get deeper roots into the business community through the process. And we’re just hoping to find a few unicorns,” said Maner.
Maner joined the organization in 2019 after serving as Vice President for Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. Immediately, she saw an opportunity for Startup Sioux Falls to expand its reach by selling its 45,000 square foot campus and relocating to meet people where they’re at.
“It’s where all of the entrepreneurs are,” said Maner of the downtown Sioux Falls area, where they recently found their newest location. “They’re either at coffee shops or they’re hanging out because our downtown is just bustling, so to reacclimate ourselves to that community is going to bode well for us in so many different ways. We’re breaking out of our four walls, we’re putting away the incubation and we’re becoming a true ecosystem organization to programmatically and otherwise serve our startup ecosystem”
The “hub” title bestowed by the SBA is not in name only, and with new funds for Startup Sioux Falls, more South Dakotans will have the opportunity to bring their business ideas to life, Maner said.
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