Community Navigator Pilot Program Evaluation

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Program Evaluation & Evidence Registry (PEER) report

The Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP) Evaluation assessed implementation fidelity, short-term outputs and outcomes, implementation alignment, and identified best practices. The evaluation found that CNPP was implemented using the intended Hub and Spoke model, and enrolled a higher proportion of clients belonging to underserved groups compared to SBA resource partner programs. Clients reported that CNPP increased their trust in SBA and developed their skills. Hub and Spoke staff tailored their activities to meet clients’ needs, necessitating service delivery modifications to better accommodate clients. Over 75% of surveyed clients reported being satisfied or highly satisfied with CNPP overall.

Read the Community Navigator Pilot Program Evaluation Report.

Evaluation of Community Development Financial Institution and Minority Depository Institution Lender Participation in SBA Capital Programs and Lender Match

Bank building

Program Evaluation & Evidence Registry (PEER) report

The SBA’s Office of Capital Access helps make capital available to small businesses through banks and other lending partners, and expanding access to the SBA’s capital programs through lending institutions specializing in local communities may reduce racial and gender disparities that persist in the use of and access to credit. This evaluation examined the attractors, facilitators, and barriers to Community Development Financial Institution and Minority Depository Institution participation in four of the SBA’s capital programs and Lender Match. More than 350 lenders participated in a web-based survey, and 89 participated in virtual interviews. Lenders reported that the mitigation of lending risk and the ability to serve higher-risk borrowers were the top loan program attractors. Collaboration with SBA District Offices, standardized financial forms, and clear program eligibility requirements facilitate participation. Internal lender organizational barriers and programmatic rules/regulations were reported as the main participation barriers. Finally, lender feedback suggests that additional examination of the Lender Match tool’s functionality is warranted to ensure it meets borrowers’ and lenders’ needs. Overall, the findings from this study support the agency’s efforts to extend access to the SBA capital programs through institutions specializing in local communities, and it furthers the SBA’s efforts to reduce disparities in accessing and using credit.

Read the Program Evaluation & Evidence Registry (PEER) report final report.

7(j) Training Program for 8(a) Participants Evaluation Report

osg sba 1

The 7(j) online training program is a resource the SBA provides to all 8(a) participants. The program helps 8(a) businesses through training and education by enhancing their capacity to obtain federal contracts. This evaluation aimed to understand the use of the 7(j) program by 8(a) certified firms and the effectiveness of this training on 8(a) participant outcomes.

Read the 7(j) Training Program for 8(a) Participants Evaluation Report

Evaluation of 8(a) Certified Firms

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Optimal conducted a rigorous quasi-experimental evaluation using sensitive administrative data from multiple systems (System for Award Management [SAM] and the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation [FPDS-NG]) to assess the short- and long-term impacts of the 8(a)-certification program. Researchers also conducted interviews with stakeholders (agency executives, industry/business organizations). Optimal also facilitated an after-action review with agency executives and program managers.

Read the final report.

Economic Impact Study – Small Business and Type of Set-Aside Procurement Programs

economic impact check surrounded by money

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) contracted with Optimal Solutions Group, LLC, to conduct an economic impact study. The study focused on the economic effects of the $145.8 billion obligated through the Small Business Set-Aside, HUBZone, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, Women-Owned Small Business, and the 8(a) Business Development programs during Fiscal Year 2021. The Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), an economic forecast modeling tool, was used to calculate and report the effects on employment, output (sales), value-added (gross domestic product), and personal income for total small business obligations and each set-aside program. Using a conservative economic forecast, the incremental economic effects of the FY 2021 contract dollars obligated through these small business procurement programs on the national economy are: a total of 1,333,679 jobs created or retained, output of $310.7 billion, value-added (gross domestic product) of $184.9 billion, and personal income of $97.7 billion.

Read the FY 2021 Economic Impact Study – Small Business and Type of Set-Aside Procurement Programs Report.

Evaluation of Boots to Business Virtual Training Report

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) contracted with Optimal Solutions Group, LLC to evaluate the implementation of the Boots to Business (B2B) Introduction to Entrepreneurship course in the virtual delivery format during the COVID-19 pandemic. The evaluation period, FY 2019 through FY 2021 (10/1/2018 to 9/30/2021), allowed for the comparison between pre-COVID and COVID periods for the Quality Assessment Post Course Survey results. The evaluation included descriptive, univariate, multivariate, and qualitative analyses of the data.

The findings indicate that approximately 90% of B2B participants were satisfied with the course materials, instructor, and classroom. Additionally, participants in virtual classes had slightly higher satisfaction rates with course materials, classroom, and instructor than in-person classes before the pandemic. The evaluation also identified opportunities to incorporate leading practices related to learner-centered learning, student motivation and engagement, and IT proficiency and use.

Read the Boots to Business Virtual Training Evaluation Report.

HUBZone Early Engagement Initiative Evaluation

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The Historically Under-Utilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Program facilitates federal
contracting opportunities for small businesses located in economically distressed
communities, with the goal of alleviating unemployment, stimulating investment, and
increasing overall community well-being. To better achieve these goals, the HUBZone
Program launched the Early Engagement Initiative (EEI) in October of 2017.

The EEI is designed to improve the quality of submitted HUBZone applications, increase the
likelihood that firms applying for HUBZone certification are qualified small business
concerns, and identify and fast-track “procurement-ready” businesses at the time of
application submission.

Read the HUBZone Early Engagement Initiative Evaluation Report.

The National-Level Economic Impact of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)

economic impact check surrounded by money

The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), contracted with the Optimal Solutions Group, LLC and Robey Analytics, LLC (Optimal Team) to conduct an analysis of the overall effect of MEP projects on the U.S. economy (50 states). MEP centers provide assistance to primarily small and medium-size manufacturing businesses to help them improve their productivity and competitiveness. The MEP centers provide services such as assistance with product development, tools and resources for business expansion, and business continuity planning, which contribute to cost savings, new investments, and improved products and processes. These improvements increase the pro­fitability and competitiveness of the client ­firms, which in turn improves the economy by creating jobs, increasing earnings, and expanding the tax base. The estimates are based on an independent survey of manufacturing clients sponsored every year by the NIST MEP and conducted by a third party. The survey asks MEP Center clients to provide their estimates of the effect of MEP services and activities on their businesses with respect to jobs, sales, investments, and cost savings.

MEP generates a substantial economic and financial return of nearly 13.5:1 for the $150 million invested by the federal government in the program in FY 2021. The study also finds that total employment in the U.S. was nearly 190,024 higher because of MEP Center projects. In addition, and similar to the previous studies, this analysis examined additional areas of economic impact not previously reported by the MEP Program: (1) personal income is $14.15 billion higher, and (2) GDP is $26.49 billion larger, translating into an increase of $2.03 billion in personal income tax revenue to the federal government than without the MEP Program.

Read the report.

Evaluation of Microloan Program Outcomes

money jar

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) contracted with Optimal Solutions Group, LLC to evaluate the relationship between the Microloan Program borrowers’ business outcomes of revenue, job creation, and business survival and inform the understanding of the training and technical assistance offered through intermediary lenders.

The evaluation focused on participating Microloan borrowers and intermediary lenders in FY 2010 through FY 2019. In addition to examining the change in business performance and tenure from the baseline (pre-loan) to the loan initiation calendar year and 2019, the study examined borrower outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic (2019-2020). The evaluation describes the population of microborrowers, their businesses and experiences, and offers program improvement considerations related to the administrative burden, loan terms, and training and technical assistance.

Read the final report.

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