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Win $1 Million From The Small Business Administration To Grow Your Business

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering $1 million in prize money that could help Black-owned small businesses locate and hire qualified workers.

Finding capable workers is now among the biggest challenges for many of the nation’s small businesses, including African American entrepreneurs.

The aid will come from the SBA’s “Makerspace Training, Collaboration and Hiring (MaTCH) Pilot” competition. The federal agency recently announced the program, maintaining it aims to address the job skills and placement gaps faced by U.S. businesses by providing funding to create or expand programs with job-specific and soft skills training within existing makerspaces.

The SBA claims that existing makerspaces are uniquely positioned to help boost workforce development in U.S. cities. Makerspaces are helpful as they target new paths for vocational and technical education, observers say. They also create other new opportunities, including generating new job skills, boosting jobs into the middle class, as well as trigger self-employment and entrepreneurship.

There are about 2,000 makerspaces in America, reports the Nation of Makers, making it a growing trend that could potentially link more potential employees with employers.

Eligible programs consist of job-specific and soft skills training along with industry-specific and trade certifications. For competition entrants, the goal is to have all program graduates immediately placed in positions with previously identified employers that are in need of skilled labor.

“In today’s booming economy, our nation’s employers are searching for qualified workers to fill the increasing amount of positions currently available,” acting SBA Administrator Chris Pilkerton stated.

“The MaTCH Pilot Competition reaffirms the SBA commitment to supporting new forms of vocational education, developing apprenticeships, independent work, and cultivating access to entrepreneurship. This pilot competition will help empower a stronger connection between the maker’s community and job creation, and ultimately provide an added economy boost to communities across our nation.”

The contest could benefit Black-owned businesses, an SBA spokesperson says. For instance, the shortage of qualified workers is a challenge for all small business owners which demands a collaborative solution.

The SBA is confident its competition will drive better recruitment, hiring, and retention outcomes that help grow a small business, including Black-owned small businesses.

Makerspaces are collaborative places where people, small businesses, nonprofits, and other community organizations can work together to solve problems by sharing ideas and developing new skills. Many of them offer tools like 3-D printers, laser cutters, soldering irons, and sewing machines for community use.

The SBA says these makerspaces can help teach and train qualified workers to fill the increasing amount of positions available by exposing them to products and tools workers would not otherwise have access to.

The SBA’s mission is to help entrepreneurs nationally start, grow and expand small businesses of their own. Challenging and partnering with makerspaces to develop additional qualified workers is one way the SBA says it supports this mission and serves the needs of small business, including black-owned firms.

Further, the SBA encourages makerspaces with a focus on STEM to apply, as other makerspaces with other areas of focus. Such makerspaces would certainly enhance the skills training of African Americans with a STEM background improving on their qualifications and thereby improving potential job prospects.

To enter, applicants must submit a business plan that, among other things, details their team’s qualifications, experience, and resources; the proposed training curriculum; the nature and length of the training/certification program; and the number of trainees that will be accommodated.

The entry form, prize details, and competition criteria are at Submissions must be submitted by Monday, July 8. Winners will be announced on Aug. 6.

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