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New ICIC Research Identifies Gaps in Regional Small Business Technical Assistance Systems

Report offers recommendations for policymakers on how to address existing gaps to ensure small business owners receive support needed to recover from the pandemic while also preparing for the long-term future

Published 03-02-22

Submitted by The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)

March 2, 2022 /CSRwire/ - Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) today published a new report that offers recommendations for policymakers to help strengthen the nation’s regional technical assistance systems to ensure that small business owners across the country receive the support they need to recover from the pandemic while also preparing them for the long-term future, including the next economic downturn.

One way small businesses have traditionally received support is through technical assistance. Technical assistance refers to services and guidance provided to small businesses that address such common needs as strategic planning, capital access, marketing, networking, financial planning, incubation and acceleration. These services are typically organized at a regional level, but many are federally funded. Many public and private sector organizations provide these services to small businesses.

“Helping small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic is critical to ensuring a strong economic recovery,’ said ICIC CEO Steve Grossman. “Since the start of the pandemic, small businesses have had to navigate a multitude of challenges including public health regulations, reduced demand for some products and services, and supply chain disruptions, among many others.”

In this report, Technical Knockout: Closing the Gaps in Regional Small Business Technical Assistance Systems, ICIC identifies region-specific gaps in technical assistance systems as well as gaps that are likely to exist throughout the nation. The most important gaps include language and cultural barriers in the provision of technical assistance services, insufficient assistance with access to capital, insufficient support to help businesses understand their technical assistance needs and how to navigate the technical assistance system, lack of assistance to help businesses prepare for large-scale disasters and economic shocks, and insufficient assistance to meet industry-specific needs.

“Although technical assistance services have long been available to small businesses, they have become especially important in helping them navigate through the pandemic,” said ICIC Senior Vice President and Director of Research Howard Wial, who co-authored the report. “The crisis, however, has exposed pre-existing gaps in regional technical assistance systems that, without further action, will persist after the crisis is over and limit the potential for a strong recovery.”

To address these gaps, ICIC recommends the following public policy measures:

  • Improve access to culturally competent multilingual small business technical assistance.
  • Make small business owners more aware of technical assistance and help them understand which services they need.
  • Increase funding for technical assistance during the pandemic recovery and help small businesses prepare for the next downturn.
  • Develop a regional, industry-specific technical assistance program to help industries important to business owners of color.
  • Streamline regional coordination of technical assistance.
  • Expand technical assistance to rural and under-resourced communities.

“Without addressing these shortcomings now, pandemic-related federal, state, and local aid may not be as useful to small businesses and may fail to reach some of them,” added Grossman. “Assistance may also fail to reach many of the new small businesses started by entrepreneurs during the pandemic, hindering their potential for growth.”

Download the full report, Technical Knockout: Closing the Gaps in Regional Small Business Technical Assistance Systems, to read the complete findings and recommendations.

About Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)
Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) was founded by renowned Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter in 1994 as a research and strategy organization that today is widely recognized as the preeminent authority on urban economic growth. ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents. Learn more at www.icic.org or @icicorg.

 

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The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) was founded by Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter in 1994 as a research and strategy organization that today is widely recognized as the preeminent authority on urban economic growth. ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents. To learn more about ICIC, visit icic.org

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