Portland-area entrepreneurs soon will be eligible to participate in a U.S. Small Business Administration grant program intended to help startup firms take it to the next level.

The SBA program, called ScaleUp America, will allocate up to $1.6 million over a five-year period to help grow small businesses in Greater Portland with annual revenue of $150,000 to $500,000.

The program will be administered by grant recipient Supply Chain Visions LLC, a Massachusetts-based business consulting firm.

Supply Chain Visions will work with local partners including the University of Southern Maine, Gorham Savings Bank, the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Blackstone Accelerates Growth and the Portland Regional Chamber.

The goal is to strengthen the support network for companies trying to negotiate what can be a difficult hurdle: expanding from a small to a medium-size business.

“It is essentially an incubator to help the existing resource providers work more collaboratively,” said William Card, economic development specialist at the SBA’s Maine District Office.

The grant program will last between one and five years, Card said.

“It is a one-year award with four renewable years at the agency’s discretion,” he said.

Portland is one of eight U.S. markets awarded ScaleUp America grants by the SBA, according to a news release issued Tuesday. The others are Tucson, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Aurora, Illinois; Roanoke, Virginia; central Ohio and western North Carolina.

The winners were chosen from a pool of more than 60 applicants, according to the SBA.

In the news release announcing the selection, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said 92 percent of new U.S. jobs come from the expansion of existing businesses.

“We are bringing our successful entrepreneurship education programs to underserved communities, bridging the gaps for those in greatest need across the country,” she said. “This intensive SBA support will create jobs and support a diverse cross-section of communities across our great nation.”

The SBA convened a meeting earlier this month in Portland geared toward meeting the needs of underserved populations, and last week held a similar forum for women-owned businesses.

Supply Chain Visions was the winning applicant to administer the Portland-area grant. It also was awarded a ScaleUp America grant for Roanoke.

Company consultant Gerry Brown, program manager for the ScaleUp program in Portland, said more specifics about the program will be available next week.

In general, the ScaleUp America program is designed to provide education, one-on-one mentorship and technical assistance to growth-seeking entrepreneurs and small businesses.

It also will help eligible companies raise capital to grow and develop stronger business networks within their communities, the SBA said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: jcraiganderson

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