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Local entrepreneur gets a boost from Small Business Development Center

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On an average day, Trina Worrell Benjamin handles invoices, returns calls and emails, directs a team of nearly a dozen employees and manages a client roster that has included big names like Rite Aid and Toys“R”Us. She admits her first steps into entrepreneurship were not easy. But with the help of…

Local entrepreneur gets a boost from Small Business Development Center

  • SBDC: Temple University SBDC
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Kutztown SBDC Wins National SBA Accelerator Fund Competition

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The Kutztown University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has been selected as one of 80 nationwide winners to receive a monetary award as part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Growth Accelerator Fund competition. SBA announced the 80 winners of the second annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition during the White House’s first Demo Day held on August 5.

The Kutztown University SBDC and Latino Business Resource Center (LBRC) partnered with the City of Reading Economic Development Department to launch the Innovation, Development, Entrepreneurship Accelerator (IDEA) food accelerator in 2014.  This program was such a success that they sought out another year of funding to serve established Latino and Black owned food manufacturing/processing firms with growth services.

The IDEA program addresses the problem of the low rate of business startups from minorities and the slow rate of growth among the existing minority businesses in the city.  It also serves this underserved population with a connection to larger grocery chains who help the IDEA clients obtain shelf space and new market channels. The program offers bilingual and bicultural services to minority business in Reading. In 2011, Reading was named America’s poorest city by the New York Times.

As part of the program, the Kutztown University SBDC will receive a monetary award of $50,000 from the SBA and will be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, start-ups launched, and corporate sponsors obtained among other program outcomes. This will allow the SBA to continue building upon its database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities. The purpose of the competition was to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Applications were judged by more than 40 experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, capital formation and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sector.  The first panel of judges reviewed over 400 applications and presentations and established a pool of 180 highly qualified finalists.  The second panel evaluated the finalists’ presentations and pitch videos to select the 80 winners. 

“SBA is continuing to make advances in supporting unique organizations that help the start-up community grow, become commercially viable, and have a real and sustained economic impact,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “Through the wide-spread outreach of this competition, we

are able to reach entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country. My commitment is to make our resources available to 21st century entrepreneurs where they are, and these accelerators, also known as incubators and innovation hubs, are the gathering place for today’s innovators and disruptors.”

For more information about this competition, visit www.sba.gov/accelerators for more details.