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

Banker discusses banking services to new customer

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)

hubzone impact

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.

SBA HUBZone Economic Impact Report

hubzone impact

This study conducted the economic impact assessment using the Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II) model produced by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. RIMS II is one of the most widely used I/O models in the nation and is regularly used to assess the impacts of federal spending programs.

Read the HUBZone Economic Impact Report.

Evaluation of SBA’s Small Business Procurement Scorecard

The SBA contracted with Optimal to evaluate the effectiveness of the Small Business Procurement Scorecard methodology change and the overall effectiveness of the scorecard in increasing small business opportunities and improving federal agencies’ ability to meet their small business contracting goals. Major findings include the change in the Small Business Procurement Scorecard methodology did not result in many changes to small business procurement practices at federal agencies for prime contracting.

Read the Small Business Procurement Scorecard report.

Spotlight On … Optimal in Bangladesh

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Bangladesh is one of the largest USAID assistance programs in the world. Since Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, poverty has been a major challenge that the country is successfully striving to overcome, despite daunting obstacles.

USAID Education Open Data Automation

Using data from the USAIDEducationData.org website, Optimal researchers visualized USAID Education Strategy results for Beneficiaries. Optimal’s Revelo tool receives, ingests, standardizes and normalizes data. It then undergoes a multi-review process and is transformed using Open Data Act guidance for use in the public portal. This data provides insights on the participating country’s beneficiary reach and costs. » Read more

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