Evaluation Report for the U.S. SBA’s Regional Cluster Initiative

Date: July 22, 2014
Location: College Park, MD

This year marks the fourth year of the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Regional Cluster Initiative pilot program. SBA’s Cluster Initiative, which began in September 2010, aims to provide funding to the organizing entities of ten clusters to encourage small business participation and growth. As the evaluator for this initiative, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC (Optimal) helped SBA produce the Year 3 Evaluation Report and two prior reports that evaluated the initiative’s outcomes and measures.

Published in June 2012, the Year 1 Report detailed the preliminary findings from the first evaluation of SBA’s initiative. The Year 2 report was made public in 2013 and the Year 3 Report, published in July 2014, presented the results of a third-party evaluation Optimal conducted, which focused on the outcomes observed during the Initiative’s third year, which centered on employment, revenue, payroll of small businesses, and “[the clusters’] ability to spur innovation and obtain financing.”1 The report outlined three key findings:

· A 500% increase in the number of small businesses participating in the cluster demonstrated small businesses’ confidence in the effectiveness of the SBA’s cluster initiative.

· Participating in the business clusters helps small businesses promote innovation, since economic activity surpassed $3.9 billion.

· There is a positive correlation between cluster participation and increases in jobs for small businesses.2

To view the full evaluation report, please click here.

For more information about SBA’s Initiative or to see the full Year 1 and Year 2 reports, please click here.