Abilene Chamber Awarded $1 Million Grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration


January 22, 2022
Staff Reports

January 24, 2022


For more information contact:
Doug Peters, President & CEO

Laurin Kocurek, Vice President
Operations & Communications

Abilene Chamber Awarded $1 Million Grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration
Abilene Chamber one of 51 recipients out of over 700 submissions nationwide

The Abilene Chamber of Commerce has been awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as part of its $100 million Community Navigator Pilot Program, an American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs often face in accessing the programs they need to recover, grow, or start their businesses.

“This is a true sign of the incredible talent and spirit of leadership that is standing up to help small businesses in communities across America today,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.

Through the Community Navigator Pilot Program, grants ranging from less than $1 million to $5 million were presented to 51 community “hubs” across the country. The Abilene Chamber was the only West Texas hub to receive a grant, and one of only two in Texas.

“Your Chamber is focused on accelerating Abilene’s business friendliness and developing an inclusive business environment for all. Through the help of this grant and our community partners, we know that we’re getting closer to reaching those goals,” said Laura Moore, The Grace Museum and 2021-2022 Chamber Chair. “We hope you’ll join us in celebrating what this grant means for the future of our area business community.”

Utilizing the Hub and Spoke model, the Abilene Chamber will serve as the program “hub” connecting businesses to “spokes” – who help connect to specific sectors of the entrepreneurial community. The five spokes in this program include the Abilene Black Chamber of Commerce, HERU Community Development Corporation, West Central Texas Council of Governments, Cisco College, and the Chamber’s own Abilene Industrial Foundation.

Together, the Chamber and its partners will work to create the West Texas Business Navigator Program targeting small business owners who are women, minorities, disabled, veterans or who are located in the rural 19-counties that encompass the Big Country including Brown, Callahan, Coleman, Comanche, Eastland, Fisher, Haskell, Jones, Kent, Knox, Mitchell, Nolan, Runnels, Scurry, Shackelford, Stephens, Stonewall, Taylor and Throckmorton County.

“Support for your business is why we exist,” said Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. “We could not be more thrilled to partner with these prestigious organizations to bring more access to training for entrepreneurs, small business owners, or those looking to take a leap of faith into starting and running their own business. Great things are on the horizon for Abilene, Texas, and we’re grateful for the community’s support.”

For more information on this program, click here.


The West Central Texas Council of Governments looks forward to working with our longstanding partners within Taylor County to identify and implement small business education programs that are focused on Marketing, Management and Finance. These pillars, combined with existing and new partnership will allow the regional small business owners to build their resolve, resiliency and develop a strong skill set that is integral to small business success.” - Kelly D. Cheek, Director of Community and Economic Development at West Central Texas Council of Governments

“The Mission of Cisco College is to provide quality, affordable, educational opportunities to meet the diverse academic, technical and career needs of the students and communities we serve. We are pleased to be a part of the training that can assist individuals with the specific skills that are needed to build a successful small business." - Carol Dupree, Provost of Cisco College

“This country was built on small business, and there are a lot of small businesses in Abilene. We want them to thrive and succeed. By giving entrepreneurs access to training such as financial literacy, I believe we’ll see more and more small business owners thriving and growing.” – Dee Moore, President of the Black Chamber of Commerce

“HERU CDC wants to bring a holistic view to meet people where they’re at. The leadership in Abilene when involved in this program are play an instrumental role in the community, and we’re ready to work together to create something great for entrepreneurs.” – Demetrius Earthly, Executive Director of HERU CDC

“As the Abilene Industrial Foundation works together with many partners to cultivate an environment where small businesses and startups receive the support they need to grow, we’re thrilled that this grant will allow us the opportunity to elevate the promotion of our business community and the resources available to historically underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs.” Gary Grubbs, Lawrence Hall – Abilene and Chair of the Abilene Industrial Foundation

Since 1908, the Abilene Chamber has served as a catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers, and a champion for developing and promoting the economy and quality of life of the Abilene community. For more information on the Chamber and the more than 1,300 businesses it represents, visit www.abilenechamber.com.