The Evaluation of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Regional Cluster Initiative — Year Two Report

Date: June 27, 2013
Location: College Park, MD

Optimal Solutions Group, LLC (Optimal) was contracted to work with  the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on its Regional Cluster Initiative in October of 2010. The SBA’s Cluster Initiative provides funding to the organizing entities of ten clusters in order to increase opportunities for small business participation within the clusters, promote innovation in the industries on which the ten clusters are focused, and enhance regional economic development and growth.

The Year Two Report published by SBA in June of 2013, calculates the outcomes realized during the second year of the Initiative. These outcomes included the employment, revenue, and payroll of the small businesses as well as their ability to further innovation and obtain financing such as loans, venture capital and angel capital.  The report also analyzes the overall economic impact of the clusters small business participants in the region.

The initial findings suggest that these clusters have grown rapidly over the first 2 years of the Initiative in membership, scale and range of services provided, and engagement with small businesses.

  • Cluster administrators reported $633 million in new economic activity accruing to affiliated small businesses during 2012.
  • 60% reported that cluster activity facilitated their development of new products or services during the second year of the cluster Initiative.
  • Annual revenue in cluster-affiliated small businesses grew in 9 out of 10 clusters during this 2-year period.

 The outcomes presented suggest that cluster participation was correlated with higher than expected levels of economic growth and new business formation, and that clusters made strides towards promoting innovation in their respective industries. (Read More)