Grants target municipalities and nonprofits that can help small firms

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A new round of federal aid aims to help small businesses by funding municipalities, states and nonprofits to assist companies in accessing COVID-19 relief programs.

The U.S. Small Business Administration will take applications for the $100 million in grants through July 12 from town, county and state governments, nonprofits and other groups. The grants will aid them in helping small businesses, particularly those owned by women, veterans and members of minority groups or located in poor neighborhoods.

The Community Navigator grants will help SBA “to connect with small businesses that have historically been underserved or left behind,” said agency administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.

The grants are between $1 million and $5 million and will pay for services over a two-year period. They were established earlier this year by Congress and President Joe Biden.

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“The SBA understands the importance of partnering with organizations as well as smaller, local institutions that are already embedded in the fabric of the Main Street business communities they serve,” said Natalie Madeira Cofield, who directs the agency’s efforts to aid women entrepreneurs.

She and others said recipients of the Navigator grants will be expected to provide training, counseling and advice to small business owners besides helping them to apply for monetary aid from SBA.