In the spirit of helping those who want to start new businesses or innovate within existing operations, the Somerset-Pulaski County Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) has introduced a new mini-grant series that will award a total of $10,000 each year to support these endeavors.

The first round of mini-grants will be announced in April 2020. SPEDA will award four $2,500 grants to two start-up companies that are looking to begin operations and/or have been in business for less than one year, and two growth-oriented businesses that have been in business for more than one year. Businesses may apply for a variety of projects, including but not limited to: strategic planning and management; purchase or physical improvements to facilities or equipment; training; or leadership, planning and management capacity initiatives.

A new series of mini-grants will be awarded annually.

SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said ultimately SPEDA seeks to fund proposals that promote entrepreneurship, business expansion and strengthen economic growth and development in Somerset and Pulaski County.

"Through savings realized with our good management and proper oversight, we hope to return that savings back into the hands of our business community through the mini-grant program," Girdler said. "There is no business too small or too large to apply for these grants. Our goal is to pay forward our spirit of innovation to the business community, so they too can innovate and make our economy even stronger."

Girdler said proposals that build capacity through the promotion, support and advancement of a business and overall economic development will take priority. Businesses should present their overall plan in their applications, ways in which the grant investment will be utilized, the need for the investment along with how they are helping to build community to mobilize local resources, and strengthen community institutions and networks.

Complete guidelines for the mini-grant program and the proposal form can be downloaded online at somersetkyleads.com/mini-grants, or e-mailed by contacting Girdler at chris@speda.org or SPEDA Chief Accounting Officer Jessica Carlton at jessica@speda.org. The application deadline is Feb. 28, 2020.

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