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CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire has a new resource to get small business owners the business advising and technical assistance they need–for free. New Hampshire’s Community Navigator Program has launched the website www.nhcommunitynavigator.org to make it easier for entrepreneurs and business owners from traditionally underserved communities to access key business resources, such as business counseling, marketing, and access to capital.

 

The website is not only a portal to resources, but it will also connect these microenterprises, cooperatives, and businesses in the early stages of development to community partners that are focused on connecting with underserved communities.

 

“The Community Navigator Program is the next evolution for New Hampshire's small business development ecosystem,” said Katherine Easterly Martey, Executive Director of the Community Development Finance Authority. “These resources will support our collective efforts to break down barriers to accessing resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them grow.”

 

The Community Navigator Program is an American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs often face when trying to recover, grow, or start their businesses. The Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to launch the program and is one of 51 grantees selected from more than 700 submissions nationwide.  

 

CDFA will serve as the statewide “hub” for implementation, working alongside established  microenterprise technical assistance providers covering each region of the state, New Hampshire’s SBA office, statewide training and language-access partners, and on-the-ground community partners to achieve the goals of the program. 

 

Addressing Barriers to Business Success

Here in New Hampshire, small businesses are the engine of our economy. Investment in business development for very small businesses–those with five or fewer employees–can be a way to increase opportunities for full-time employment, increased wages, and wealth-building for low- and moderate-income business owners and their families.

 

The Community Navigator Program directly targets the barriers encountered by socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses by enabling regional partners to focus on reaching out to small businesses that are owned by historically vulnerable community members, specifically Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC); immigrants and refugees; veterans; women; disabled, formerly incarcerated, and LGBTQ and gender non-conforming people. 

 

The program also seeks to build on what works, using previous program strengths and resources to proactively support communities of high need and potential that traditional economic development efforts have been unable to successfully connect with capital and technical assistance in the past. 

 

“Building a successful small business requires strong community relationships and access to capital with the help of friends and family,” said Easterly Martey. “Community members impacted by intergenerational poverty and the racial wealth gap are unfortunately faced with barriers that diminish their access to these types of resources and networks. These inequities in small business development and asset building are diminishing a small business’ potential. It is critical in this moment that we take the opportunity to break down these barriers through the Community Navigator Program.” 

 

To this end, the program’s website is designed to not only provide information about resources, but to directly connect business owners to people who can help. Site visitors can reach partner programs immediately by clicking the “Access Resources” button at the top of the page and providing their email address. They will also find information about the program and the services offered.

 

Building on Community Partnerships

The program builds on years of CDFA’s investment in microenterprises throughout New Hampshire. In the past two years, CDFA has offered technical assistance through community partners, including more than $2.6 million in federal Community Development Block Grants. Another $1.3 million in Community Development Block Grant funding has been allocated to microenterprise support in 2022.

 

To maximize the reach of the program, partner organizations around the state are ready to help small businesses and entrepreneurs. These key regional partners include: 

 

 

“Investing in local organizations and understanding the needs of businesses around the state goes a long way in earning the trust and building relationships with businesses in traditionally underserved communities,” said Easterly Martey. “This pilot program will enable our regional partners to better reach and meet the needs of those who have traditionally lacked access.”

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To learn more about New Hampshire’s program, reach out to a partner organization, and sign up for news and updates, visit www.nhcommunitynavigator.org. 

 

For more information on resources available to New Hampshire nonprofits, municipalities and businesses through CDFA’s programs, visit www.nhcdfa.org. 

 

About the Community Development Finance Authority 

The Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) is a statewide nonprofit public authority focused on maximizing the value and impact of community development, economic development and clean energy initiatives throughout New Hampshire. The organization leverages a variety of financial and technical resources, including the competitive deployment of grant, loan and equity programs. Those resources include New Hampshire state tax credits, federal Community Development Block Grant resources and the CDFA Clean Energy Fund. For more information about CDFA and its programs visit www.nhcdfa.org or call 603-226-2170.

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