SBA Associate Administrator Mark Madrid, Community Leaders Lead Listening Session for Community Navigators Pilot Program in Houston

HOUSTON, TX – SBA Associate Administrator, Mark Madrid, joined SBA Houston District Office leaders and the Houston Area Urban League to host a small business listening session to highlight the Community Navigators Pilot Program (CNPP). 

The Community Navigator Program is an 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 provides 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, including three local organizations known for their service to small business: The Houston Area Urban League, Hello Alice, and the Dallas Entrepreneurship Center.

The plan covers 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 essence of the Community Navigator Pilot Program is to connect in a hyperlocal way and meet small businesses where they are,” said Associate Administrator Mark Madrid. “For this Navigator approach to be successful, it is essential that we connect community champions with local, peer-to-peer ecosystems. Our hope is that community leaders can rally behind this hub-and-spoke concept, nurture it and cultivate it.”

“We all know that small businesses are the backbone of national and local economies, and the Urban League wants to do our part to change the narrative and the outcomes of their success. It’s about investing back in our local community, providing greater access to capital and resources and job creation,” says Houston Area Urban League President & CEO Judson Robinson, III. “The addition of the SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP) will allow us to reach, and support underserved small businesses with emphasis on those owned by women, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to help them recover from the effects of COVID-19.”   

“We are excited to facilitate Program outreach and leverage existing partnerships with other organizations who offer services to low- and moderate-income minority and women-owned businesses,” states Eric Goodie, Area Vice President of the Houston Area Urban League. “Through the CNPP we will provide comprehensive business planning and support, financial and credit education, advisory services, opportunities for business-to-business networking, access to financing and contracting/procurement opportunities, and assistance with obtaining various business certifications.”   

A recording of the listening session can be viewed  here.

Photos from the listening session are available below.