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$2 Million Grant Supports ASBTDC’s Work with Underserved and Very Small Businesses

State Director Laura Fine leads a team meeting at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at UA Little Rock. Photo by Ben Krain.
State Director Laura Fine leads a team meeting at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at UA Little Rock. Photo by Ben Krain.

Over the next five years, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center based at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will assist hundreds of the state’s smallest businesses with getting the capital they need.

ASBTDC is pleased to announce that the U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative has awarded $2 million to the center to assist small businesses applying for the SSBCI Capital Program and other small business funding.

Through the SSBCI Technical Assistance Grant Program, Treasury allocated $200 million for states, territories, the District of Columbia, and Tribal governments. The funds are being dispersed based on a formula. Arkansas received notice of its TA award in December.

Reauthorized and expanded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, SSBCI is a nearly $10 billion program to support small businesses and entrepreneurship in communities across the United States by providing capital and technical assistance to promote small business stability, growth, and success.

Advising and Education

The initiative directs states to designate a technical assistance provider to help “very small businesses” and “underserved” small businesses apply for the SSBCI Capital Program and other small business funding programs.

Upon the recommendation of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, the U.S. Treasury designated ASBTDC as the state’s SSBCI technical assistance provider. ADFA is responsible for implementing the SSBCI Capital Program in Arkansas.

“The ASBTDC is the perfect organization to lead the technical assistance piece of the SSBCI program in Arkansas,” said ADFA President Mark Conine. “The ASBTDC’s commitment and track record of supporting businesses across Arkansas in various sectors and stages of development is outstanding.”

Very small businesses, or VSBs, are defined as businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Independent contractors and sole proprietors are considered VSBs.

Underserved businesses include those in historically underserved communities, plus socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs who may have lacked the support needed to pursue their business goals.

“ASBTDC has 44 years of experience providing comprehensive support to small businesses,” said ASBTDC State Director Laura Fine. “SSBCI technical assistance funding allows us to continue giving personalized guidance and free training to empower underserved and very small businesses, ensuring they have the tools and access to capital needed to thrive in today’s competitive landscape.”

Consultants based at the ASBTDC Lead Center at UA Little Rock will work one-on-one with businesses who want to apply for SSBCI funding, loans or other financing. The center will hold in-person and online training events. Consulting services and training are both offered free of charge.

Fine said ASBTDC expects to train 750 small businesses over five years and provide individual consulting to 875 business owners, resulting in at least 230 applications to the state’s SSBCI capital programs.

Training will cover legal, accounting and financial topics such as business bookkeeping, legal structures and the capital acquisition process. These events will help the ASBTDC identify borrowers who need one-on-one guidance before submitting their application to a lender.

The first training event is set for 12 p.m. March 28 when ASBTDC Business Consultant Wendy Orvis leads the live webinar, “Funding Your Business: Loans, Grants and Other Options.” Businesses may register at

To request consulting, businesses can go to, email or call 800-862-2040.

The ASBTDC, a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, UA Little Rock and other institutions of higher education in Arkansas, assists aspiring and established business owners. Unique among Arkansas economic development organizations, ASBTDC serves businesses from any county in Arkansas, in any industry sector and at any stage of business development. Visit to learn more.