Recognizing the need for more localized and individualized tools for small business owners to succeed during the current pandemic, the Department of Community & Economic Development is launching the new Small Business Spark Program. The department is collaborating with the Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University to provide technical assistance grants to Allentown businesses recovering from the impact of COVID-19.
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be eligible to receive up to 14 hours of assistance from local experts in the following areas:
- marketing, photography, social media
- financial management
- legal assistance
- strategic planning
Those ecosystem consulting services will be provided by other local businesses that can submit a proposal to the Small Business Development Center. The request for service providers is available Monday, November 15, 2021 until Monday, December 6, 2021 on the SPARK Program website. Priority will be given to small, diverse, and Allentown-based service providers. The Lehigh University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will administer the program and approve grant applications. Grant applications that meet the guidelines will be approved in the order they are received. The SBDC will continue to accept applications until funding is exhausted. All applicants will be informed of their final application status.
Applications for small Allentown businesses to receive the technical assistance grants will open Monday, December 13, 2021. Businesses are required to complete a one-page intake form available on the SPARK Program website. This collects basic contact information and allows business owners to specify their needs. These applications will be available in both English and Spanish. Businesses can be awarded up to 14 hours of assistance depending on the services they select. Note: This grant consists of technical assistance provided at no cost to awardees. There is no monetary award associated with this grant.
Successful applicants must meet all of the following criteria:
- The principal place of business is within the city limits of Allentown, Pennsylvania.
- The business has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The business has 50 or fewer full-time employees.
Technical assistance grants will be awarded with work to begin taking place in early January and will continue through May 31, 2022.
For additional information, please email AllentownSPARK@Lehigh.edu.