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Coalition Roundup: October 15, 2021

As we enter Start Us Up’s third year, we remain inspired by the continued leadership members of the coalition demonstrate in their communities, as well as on entrepreneurship issues at the national level.

The hard work of building a more inclusive, accessible economy requires champions, and week after week, we see members of the Start Us Up coalition recognized as some of the best and boldest.

Task Force on the Future of SBA
On Thursday, the Bipartisan Policy Center announced a Task Force dedicated to helping the SBA “prepare for a new phase of its existence” — inspired by the Agency’s work during COVID-19 and the limitations it exposed. Small Business Majority Government Affairs Director Awesta Sarkash was named to the committee, which “through wide ranging consultations, public dialogue, and private deliberation… will work toward a set of bipartisan ideas that are actionable and oriented toward supporting the future of small business and entrepreneurship policy.”

Building A Diverse Workforce: IBSA, Inc
Lazone Grays Jr., CEO of IBSA Inc., was profiled in TK Magazine as part of its series on “Building A Diverse Workforce.” The feature highlights IBSA’s work to support “low-income individuals striving to overcome barriers” through education, advocacy, and volunteering. He notes that “workforce training and development programs are key components of cultivating confidence and encouraging entrepreneurship to forge economic independence.”

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces 50 Recipients of “Build to Scale” Program
In late September, the Department of Commerce announced grants totaling $36.5 million to “support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development.” The list of recipients includes coalition members Emerging Prairie (Fargo, ND), NXTUS (Wichita, KS), Startup Tucson, and TechTown Detroit. As recipients of the Capital Challenge Grant, the organizations will provide operational support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks, or investor training programs:

  • Emerging Prairie will form the Emerging Prairie AgTech Venture Capital Fund, which will provide seed-stage startups with venture capital funding to help them accelerate towards success.
  • NXTUS’s Accelerate Venture Partners program helps founders become excellent investment opportunities, improving access to and reducing friction in the fundraising process and educating founders and investors about this asset class.
  • Startup Tucson will provide targeted training for existing investors on emerging investment trends and best practices in supporting diverse founders and will work to recruit, educate, and mentor new upwardly-mobile prospective investors, utilizing crowdfunding as a scaffolded learn-by-doing investment tool.
  • TechTown Detroit, in partnership with the Angel Capital Association (ACA), VentureWell, and Ann Arbor SPARK (AAS), will recruit and train 200 high-net-worth individuals from Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes region who are underrepresented in the angel investor community and activate their potential as investors.
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