ENTREPRENEURS

SBA Awards PRIME Grants to WV Small Business Assistance Organizations To Help Small Businesses Grow And Create Jobs 92 awardees include Women’s Business & Training Center and Unlimited Future, Inc.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two West Virginia organizations are among the 92 nonprofit organizations which received $8 million in grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help low-income and very low-income entrepreneurs with training and technical assistance to start, operate and grow their businesses.

The Women’s Business & Training Center (WBC) located in Beckley, W.Va. received $175,000 and Unlimited Future, Inc. (UFI) located in Huntington, W.Va. received $90,000 as one of the 215 entities which applied for funding open to all 50 states and the U.S. territories. The funding, delivered under the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME), also will provide capacity-building services to microenterprise development entities to strengthen the quality of their program. “PRIME grants are major sources of funding that organizations use to provide essential training and technical assistance to small businesses,” said SBA West Virginia Director Judy McCauley. “We are very pleased the Women’s Business Center and Unlimited Future were able receive this funding to assist them in building a strong, supportive culture for microenterprise development and growth.” Assistance is offered through the delivery of training and entrepreneurial development programs administered by the Women’s Business Center and Unlimited Future, Inc. “We are very excited by the in-depth assistance we can provide through this funding,” said Tara Elder, director of the WBC. “This will truly allow us to bring the possibility of business ownership to those who never thought it was possible and help others grow to the next level while taking control of the future of their business.” The WBC will administer their funding through a three-phase delivery. Phase One employs an eight week training program that combines self-employment and job skills implemented in Raleigh, Greenbrier and Mercer counties. Phase Two will take microenterprise training into eight rural counties in southern West Virginia at a reduced cost. And Phase Three includes business evaluations that will develop customized plans for microenterprises on marketing, financials, personnel, planning and more.

UFI will utilize the funding to increase its ability to serve aspiring low-income entrepreneurs in the Greater Huntington area who lack business experience and capital. It will also permit UFI to assist with network and outreach activities and to bring in a full-time operations director for the business incubator. “One of the first projects covered under the funding will be to help sponsor the first-ever Tri-State Farm & Food Conference in Huntington on Nov. 5,” said Rachel Houston, operations director of UFI. “As a sponsor, UFI will be involved in the economic development portion of the conference, whose focus is to be a resource for food growers, producers and end users.”

PRIME grants are intended to help small businesses with five or fewer employees that are economically disadvantaged and assist businesses owned by low-income individuals. The maximum funding any entity could receive was $250,000 which requires a 50 percent match from each recipient organization.