Thursday, August 6, 2015

Release Date: August 6, 2015 Contact: Liza Marron 719-539-5606 U.S. SBA: Miguel Ayala (202) 450-0148 SBA Boosts Economic Impact of Accelerators with $4.4 Million in Prizes San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition Brings SBA Accelerator Prize Home WASHINGTON/ALAMOSA – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced the 80 winners of the second annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. The San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition based in Alamosa Colorado is among the winners. The recipients represent 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Accelerators serve entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing and tech start-ups, to farming and biotech – with many focused on creating a diverse and inclusive small business community. “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.” The San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition (LFC) entered the national contest based on its work to foster an equitable local food system that restores the health of the people, community, economy and ecosystem. Two important business incubator projects were featured. The Valley Roots Food Hub local foods aggregation and distribution enterprise complete with a warehouse and large-scale commercial kitchen for value-added production in Mosca; And the 38-acres of amazing soil at the bend of the Rio that comprises the Rio Grande Healthy Living Park - recently obtained to nurture beginning farmers and to attract visitors for a back-to-the-land experience. “The LFC is proud to say that it has created five full-time and four part-time well-paying jobs and is slated for five more in the coming years as well as incubating business entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector,” stated LFC Director Liza Marron. “We are thrilled to be chosen for this prestigious National Award that recognizes the LFC as a business incubator in the San Luis Valley.” 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 and selected the 80 winners. Each organization will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA. In accepting these funds, the accelerators will also be committing to quarterly reporting for one year. They will be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained. 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. While there are entrepreneurial activities occurring nationwide, some are better supported by private sector ecosystems than others. SBA has created connective tissue amongst the nearly 130 winning entrepreneurial ecosystems now part of the Growth Accelerator Fund. We will continue to explore ways to creatively harness this powerful network and connect startups to each other and Federal government resources. We reported to Congress a baseline of 2014’s fifty winners – made up of about 1,500 companies that have raised $600 million and employ nearly 5,000 people – and with the Class of 2015 the number of entrepreneurs we touch grows significantly. Additionally, SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) used the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition’s framework to award an additional $400,000 to ecosystems primarily dedicated to Native American entrepreneurs and small businesses. Criteria used for these eight $50,000 prizes were determined by the ONAA, which also managed and judged these eight selections. The SBA discussed the Growth Accelerator program and other SBA programs at the White House Demo Day on Tuesday. Watch and check out for more details. #SBA Accelerates on Twitter.

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