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SBA Unveils Program Designed to Create Jobs, Spur Innovation

The U.S. Small Business Administration this week unveiled 10 projects to which it will give nearly $6 million as part of a pilot program designed to create jobs and stimulate innovation among small businesses in defense technology, agriculture, aviation, energy and robotics, among other industries.

SBA’s administrator Karen Mills said she is confident the program, called Innovative Economies, will have an impact. 

“SBA's support will help expand the opportunities and the role small businesses play in these regional collaborations, which are enhancing the ability to create jobs locally and compete on a national and global scale,” Mills said.

The 10 projects – also called regional economic clusters –were chosen from a field of 173 projects because of their potential to create innovative research and commercialize new products in rural and urban communities across the country. The Upper Michigan Green Aviation Coalition cluster in Michigan, for example, will focus on expanding the green -aviation industry.

The clusters will each receive as much as $600,000 and will be collaborations with small businesses , the public sector, economic developers and local organizations, SBA press secretary Hayley Matz told BusinessNewsDaily.

SBA said the funds can be used to provide training, mentoring and counseling to small businesses or to attract more businesses to participate.

Combined, SBA will distribute $5,864,235.21. The fund will be broken down as follows:

-Agriculture Innovation Cluster in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito, Calif. ($600,000)

-Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster in North and South Carolina ($598,866)

-Connecticut Hydrogen-Fuel Cell Coalition in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island ($566,573)

-Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions in Mississippi and Louisiana ($600,000)

-Illinois Smart Grid Regional Innovation Cluster in Illinois ($599,801)

-NorTech in Ohio ($499,514)

-Upper Michigan Green Aviation Coalition in Michigan ($599,882.37)

-Defense Alliance of Minnesota in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin ($599,628)

-San Diego Advanced Defense Cluster ($599,978)

-Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation of Huntsville, Ala. ($599,992.84)