MELBOURNE, FLA. — As the resurgent COVID pandemic rattles the economy once again, Florida Tech’s weVENTURE Women’s Business Center has received two doses of federal funding that will help it assist more small businesses in their time of need.
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced in late August that weVENTURE WBC was one of 14 women’s business centers nationwide to receive grants as part of the Women’s Business Centers Resiliency and Recovery Demonstration Grant under the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO).
weVENTURE WBC was awarded a $171,000 grant.
“During the pandemic, our Women’s Business Centers have played an integral role in meeting the needs of women entrepreneurs during an especially challenging time. As resource providers, they too have been impacted by the changing business landscape and have had to pivot to meet community needs,” said Natalie Madeira Cofield, assistant administrator for SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership. “With this funding, we will support WBCs that have established innovative programming to increase outreach to aspiring and active women entrepreneurs nationwide.”
Working with the City of Palm Bay, weVENTURE WBC has also been awarded $170,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Though this funding is usually restricted to affordable housing and related matters, Congress expanded its uses to include special economic development to support entrepreneurs in census tracts with a majority low- or moderate-income residents – and Palm Bay officials tapped weVENTURE WBC to help.
Both funding infusions will allow weVENTURE WBC to expand its capacity to offer free counseling and other services to entrepreneurs and small-business owners, including the hiring of additional business coaches, increased outreach and support and the offering of coaching services in Spanish.
Valerie Cameron Nunez and Gregory Quinones have been hired to focus exclusively on support for businesses in the city of Palm Bay, while Kathy Register and Jeannette Kraar will coach businesses throughout the Space Coast and Treasure Coast.
“We are honored to be a valued community resource at the time the community needs it,” said Kathryn Rudloff, weVENTURE WBC executive director. “These grants will allow us to further assist the small-business community as it responds to and recovers from the pandemic.”