Assisting Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs
Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is committed to supporting job creation, building communities, and improving the lives of the nearly 10 million people residing in the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt (DRA Region), which includes 252 counties and parishes in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.
DRA hosted a webinar on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, to brief and prepare prospective applicants who are interested in learning more about DSBA, including goals and objectives, duties, and responsibilities of the selected organization(s), and how to prepare a competitive proposal.
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What is the Delta Small Business Academy?
With the launch of the Delta Small Business Academy (DSBA), DRA, along with its partners renews the agency’s commitment to supporting those in the small business and entrepreneurial communities within the DRA Region through technical assistance programming, mentorships, and peer-to-peer best practice exchanges.
DSBA is designed to complement and enhance traditional public and private small business assistance networks. The program will facilitate economic stability and viability for small and medium-sized business owners and late-stage entrepreneurs in the DRA Region with an emphasis on those in rural areas and communities as well as members of the underserved, minority, and/or marginalized groups by helping to improve their ability to navigate business operations by providing technical assistance and training programs.
DRA is accepting proposals from qualified organizations, including non-profits, institutions of higher education, and other entities (“Organizations”) to work in partnership to develop and deploy a nationally recognized technical assistance program that will meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses and late-stage entrepreneurs by improving their operations and supporting their continued viability. DSBA will include but not be limited to:
- A year-long technical assistance program for a cohort of small business leaders and late-stage entrepreneurs that will:
- Recruit participants from the DRA Region, with an emphasis on those residing in rural areas as well as individuals representing the underserved, minority, and/or other historically marginalized groups;
- Focus on current and future business operations, access to capital, longer-term strategic planning, and other challenges facing small businesses in Delta communities; and
- Develop training sessions to be held throughout the region.
- An active alumni program of graduates to catalyze and strengthen networking opportunities.
What will sessions at the Academy cover?
Sessions address topics applicable to business owners and entrepreneurs. DSBA sessions will focus on opportunities and challenges facing small businesses now and in the future:
- Access to capital
- Human resources
- Marketing and commerce
- Strategic planning
- Technology and digital needs
Who is eligible for the Academy?
To be selected to participate in DSBA, participants must own or operate a business that has been in operation for at least the previous 12 months. Participants must operate within the 252 counties and parishes of the DRA Region. There is an emphasis on those in rural areas and communities as well as members of underserved, minority and/or marginalized groups. This program is not designed for speculative entrepreneur ventures.
How are business owners and entrepreneurs selected?
Prospective participants will complete an application that describes their business operations and structure, industry details and trends, areas of opportunities and challenges, and goals for the business. Participants will be chosen by DRA’s Federal Co-Chair or Alternate Federal Co-Chair based on recommendations from the review panel.