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The Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship's latest grant will help small businesses secure governmental contracts. Discussing the grant are Leigh Christian, from left, TechRich 7(j) Project Manager; Lafero D. Ralph, Deputy Director of Alabama Small Business Administration; and Dr. Patricia Sims, President of Drake State Community and Technical College. CONTRIBUTED

Catalyst Center receives Small Business Administration grant

HUNTSVILLE – This time of year, receiving a gift isn’t unusual. Employees of The Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship have received a gift in the form of a new grant.

Company officials announced on Dec. 4 that the Small Business Administration or SBA had awarded the grant in its network of resource providers. Drake State Community and Technical College, 3421 Meridian Street N. in Huntsville hosted the meeting.

The grant will help to fund efforts with the 7(j) Management & Technical Assistance Program. A network of resource providers, like The Catalyst, will provide high-quality assistance to eligible small disadvantaged businesses.

The 7(j) program’s assistance encompasses a wide spectrum of services to include one-on-one customized coaching, business training and networking/matchmaking opportunities.

“A key goal of the program is to help firms successfully compete for federal, state and local contracting opportunities as a prime contractor or subcontractor,” Leigh Christian said. Christian works as TechRich 7(j) Project Manager.

Companies must satisfy a few requirements for eligibility to participate in free training.

* Ownerships — Economically and socially disadvantaged individuals who own a small business qualify participation.

* The rate — A small business can qualify if offices are located in areas of high unemployment or low income.

* Income — Individuals with a low income can qualify for the grant.

* Business pedigree — A small business qualifies that is certified 8(a) participant; is a HUBZone small business; or its status is ‘woman-owned small business’ that has economic disadvantages.

SBA awarded The Catalyst a one-year grant of $350,000 for five option years to administer the 7(j) program in Management & Technical Assistance. Strategic Partners for this grant include Drake State Community and Technical College, Neighborhood Concepts, Regions Bank, Redstone Federal Credit Union and Live Oak Bank.

Drake State will provide an Entrepreneurship Certificate program. Neighborhood Concepts and Redstone Federal Credit Union will offer loans with the Business Assistance Microloan or BAM program.

Live Oak Bank will support 7(j) companies relative to mergers, acquisitions and growth in contract mobilization. Regions will supply facilities, coaches and assist in reaching low- to moderate-income individuals within their North Alabama footprint.

The Catalyst Center serves entrepreneurs and small business owners in every stage of business. The organization provides best-in-class coaching, in-demand services and relevant programs to foster the success of small businesses.

The Catalyst is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and all contributions are 100-percent tax deductible. The Catalyst’s address is 515 Sparkman Drive in Huntsville. For information, call 256-490-8190 or visit catalystcenter.org.

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