Senator Whitaker Congratulates the Deserving Small Businesses on Receiving Innovation Grant Award

Updated: Sep 16


Senator Genevieve Whitaker congratulates the small businesses, especially those in most need of funding who needed support for their businesses, especially our start-ups, women-owned and overall, socially or economically disadvantaged. While this is a cause for celebration, Senator Whitaker and her staff fielded concerns from the business community concerning the Small Business Administration's 2022 Small Business Administration Grant Award from denied applicants. In response to Senator Whitaker’s concerns, she contacted the Virgin Islands Small Business Administration Associate State Director, Ms. Karen Jones, who promptly responded to Senator Whitaker’s inquiry. Senator Whitaker, in her inquiry, shared a specific denial and concerns for denials in general directed to our office in asking what the parameters for funding are and if any further funding opportunities will be made available for denied applicants.


SBA Director Jones in her reply indicated that “Small Business Development Center (VI SBDC) was asked to assist in facilitating the application process (i.e. dissemination and collection of the application forms, providing information on the requirements to apply, answering questions and/or concerns from applicants, review applications for eligibility based on the requested documentation, and selecting an independent panel of individuals representing all 3 islands to review all eligible applications and determine who would be awarded a grant based on Innovation/Innovativeness.  Within the short period of time given to execute this initiative, we received approximately 1,000+ applications.  We have been transparent with the process as possible, while respecting the wishes of the Office of the Governor. Again, I would like to stress that the selection process was weighed heavily on how the applicant responded to the 3 questions on Innovation and future growth and resiliency,” stated Director Jones. Director Jones sharing the link to the following video outlining the steps used in the selection process and “reasons and common mistakes/errors” that the applicants made their application not eligible to receive funding: Small Business Innovation Grant 2022 Wrap-Up Video


President Joe Biden as an example, through the Small Business Administration (SBA) on August 11, 2021, it was announced by the SBA, the 33 grant awards were issued up to $125,000 each for specialized training, mentoring, and technical assistance for research and development (R&D)-focused small businesses under the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program. FAST seeks to improve outcomes in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs for underserved communities by increasing participation from women-owned, rural-based, and socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses. President Biden expresses the following often: "...great ideas come from anywhere and everywhere." And SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman shared: "supporting all our nation’s innovative startups and increasing equitable access to federal research funding is a priority for the SBA, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it will build a stronger future for all of us[.]” Source: https://www.sba.gov/article/2021/aug/11/sba-awards-grants-33-organizations-help-underserved-communities-succeed-small-business-innovation


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