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SPARK Program FAQ

How can I find out if my business is within Allentown City limits?

You can use this map to search the address of your business.

Who is eligible for the Allentown Small Business Spark Program?

  • Successful applicants must meet all of the following criteria:
    • The principal place of business is within Allentown city limits.
    • The business has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • The business has 50 or fewer full-time employees.
  • Applicants will self-certify that they meet the criteria. The SBDC will contact individual applicants if there are any questions about the application. No documents need to be submitted for this program unless requested by the SBDC to confirm any of the above criteria.

How does this program work for grant recipients?

  • This grant consists of technical assistance provided at no cost to awardees. There is no monetary award associated with this grant. Interested and eligible businesses begin by completing the SPARK Applicant form on the Allentown Small Business Spark Program website. This application window opens Monday, December 13, 2021, and will remaining open on a rolling basis. Prior to the opening date, applicants can fill out the interest form to be notified of when the application window opens.
  • Businesses will select for which areas they wish to receive technical assistance on the application form. The City of Allentown and the Small Business Development Center have negotiated hourly rates for services with each service provider (Vendor). Depending on which areas of assistance are needed, the business can receive up to 14 hours of technical assistance in one or multiple areas. Grant applications that meet the guidelines will be approved in the order they are received.
  • The technical assistance will be scheduled between the Vendor and the grant recipient directly with a facilitated connection from the Small Business Development Center. This assistance will be provided virtually or in-person during regular business hours. Upon the completion of the assistance, the Vendor will invoice the Small Business Development Center.
  • The grant recipient will be expected to complete some minor reporting and may choose to continue working with the Small Business Development Center for their consulting services separately at no cost.

How does this program work for technical assistance providers?

  • Vendors interested in submitting a proposal to provide technical assistance to Allentown small businesses as part of this program may do so beginning Monday, November 15,2021-Friday, December 10, 2021. Proposals may be submitted Allentown Small Business Spark Program website under the Vendor Information form. Proposals will be reviewed by the Lehigh University Purchasing Office, the City of Allentown, and the Small Business Development Center using the criteria outlined in the Request for Proposals documents.
  • Vendors may submit questions for the program through the process outlined in the Request for Proposals documentation.
  • Upon review of the proposals, the review committee will choose the highest-scoring vendors to engage in the program. Vendors will be required to propose an hourly rate for technical assistance services. If selected, this rate will determine how many hours they provide in technical assistance for each grant recipient.
  • Vendors who qualify as small, diverse, and Allentown-based will receive priority in the evaluation of proposals.

In what areas can businesses apply for technical assistance?

  • Technical assistance will be provided from local experts in the following areas:
    • marketing, photography, social media,
    • e-commerce/website,
    • cybersecurity,
    • financial management,
    • legal assistance,
    • strategic planning
  • Businesses can select one or multiple areas on their application.

When can grant recipients apply for this program?

Grant recipients may complete an interest form at any time to be notified of when the application window opens. The application window opens Monday, December 13, 2021, and will remain open on a rolling basis until funds are expended for the program or by May 31, 2022, whichever comes first. Businesses are required to complete a one-page intake form available on the Small Business Development Center website.

What if I have questions about completing my grant application?

Applicants can reach out to the Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University for assistance in completing the application by calling 610.758.3980, or emailing AllentownSPARK@lehigh.edu.

What sort of information is collected on the grant application?

The grant application form is available online on the SPARK program website beginning December 13. Application questions include contact information, demographic reporting information, and questions regarding the number of low-to-moderate-income employees and customers/clients. This information is required due to reporting requirements associated with the federal Department of Treasury.