The DEC Network, a non-profit entrepreneurial hub for North Texas startups, has been awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration as part of its $100 million Community Navigator Pilot Program. The American Rescue Act initiative aims to reduce barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs often face in accessing the programs they need to recover, grow, or start their businesses.
The DEC Network—also known as the Dallas Entrepreneur Center—was one of 51 grant winners out of 700 organizations that made submissions. DEC was the only grant winner in North Texas, and one of only two winners in the Lone Star State.
“This is a true sign of the incredible talent and spirit of leadership that is standing up to help small businesses in communities across America today,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said during a webinar for the grant winners on October 28.
Grant represents nearly a year of The DEC Network’s budget
“This million dollars, which represents nearly a year of our operating budget, will allow us to provide more resources and programming for the underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs in this community,” DEC Network CEO Bill Chinn said in a statement. “We’re so grateful to the SBA for this grant and thankful for our team who worked so hard to get it.”
Dallas mayor calls DEC Network “a terrific partner”
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson praised The DEC Network for winning the grant and aiding businesses in the region.
“Dallas is a city built on innovative thinking, and we are committed to becoming an international hub for inclusive entrepreneurship,” Mayor Johnson said in a statement. “The DEC Network has been a terrific partner in those efforts.”
”Now, through the SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program, The DEC Network will help expand programs and services for entrepreneurs in our underserved communities,” he added. “I’m excited to see them get to work on behalf of our small business ecosystem.”
Helping to close the resource gap
The DEC Network’s goal is to drive innovation and economic impact by helping entrepreneurs start, build, and grow their businesses. Since 2013, it has launched a number of innovation hubs across Dallas-Fort Worth, providing entrepreneurs education, mentorship, community, and advocacy,
Its programs in Dallas include the launch of the Dallas B.U.I.L.D. Collaborative (Broadening Urban Investment to Leverage Dallas). In conjunction with the City of Dallas Office of Economic Development, B.U.I.L.D. focuses on “closing the gap in resources for small businesses in Dallas,” especially those owned by women, veterans, LGBTQ+, and people of color.
The grant will help improve access to government resources
The Community Navigator grant winners have been empowered to engage local community entities to help small business owners gain access to and knowledge of SBA and government resources.
To spearhead that effort locally, The DEC Network will be working with six community entities: Veteran Women’s Enterprise Center; LiftFund; TruFund; Dallas College; BCL of Texas; and WiNGS.
The Community Navigator Pilot Program grant will be given in two phases: one installment in 2022, the second in 2023.
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