Workforce Service Provider Helps Secure Funding for NYC Businesses Through SVOG Grant

Jill Monte - Content Specialist ·

The workforce system’s mission has always been to help businesses find trained and qualified workers to fill open jobs, yet in today’s economic climate, this mission has expanded. The need to support businesses and prevent them from closing their doors has become a big priority.

An important part of any region’s workforce funding strategy are Federal grants administered through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and workforce providers like EDSI are uniquely qualified and positioned to provide crucial support services to help individuals and businesses in need secure money for important program assistance.

The bleak news reports on businesses and industries struggling to stay afloat have been numerous as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on companies across the country, including New York City. What we haven’t heard as much about are the resources businesses used to survive.

In this blog, you’ll learn about how businesses within the entertainment industry had the opportunity to apply for federal funding through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, and how workforce development played a big role in helping coordinate these efforts.

In the following Q&A session, we spotlight workforce development service provider, EDSI in an interview with Project Consultant, Jennifer Saladis-Moscoso.

J Saladis Headshot
Jennifer Saladis-Moscoso

Please contact us if you’d like to learn even more after reading Jennifer’s insights!

What is the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and how much funding was offered?

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. This grant program was one of the largest that the SBA has ever undertaken and included over $16 billion in grant funds to shuttered venues, administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. The SBA closed the SVOG application portal in late summer 2021. The remaining program funds are being offered to grant awardees through a supplemental funding application, that will equal 50% of the initial award, not to exceed 10 million dollars.

What kind of businesses were eligible to apply for the SVOG funding?

The SVOG targeted a very niche subset within the entertainment industry, which completely closed down early in the pandemic. With this being a federal grant, businesses all over the country and all U.S. territories can apply, but we specifically provide services to New York City-based businesses or those who at least have a location in the city.

Eligible businesses seeking funding are more commonly known as concert venues, movie theaters, entertainment promoters, talent representatives for musicians/celebrities, performing arts organizations, etc.

For more information on SVOG funding and eligibility requirements, go here.

Tell me about how EDSI became involved in the SVOG project.

EDSI is well-respected as a workforce development and consulting firm that offers national appeal with a local feel. We are known in our region for providing crucial training, employment and support services to our employer and jobseeker customers. When the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) asked us to manage the project, we immediately said YES!

Why do you think SBS chose EDSI to work on this project?

We’ve been working with SBS for over 10 years. SBS is the funding organization for our four Workforce1 Career Centers that we operate in NY and they are the funder for the NYC Business Solutions Centers EDSI runs in Staten Island. We operate 1 NYC Business Solutions Center in Staten Island, and 4 Workforce1 Career Centers in: Staten Island, Upper Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, and Washington Heights

SBS’ experience in working with EDSI has been a positive one. We helped coordinate their Emergency Response Grant in the summer of 2020, and since they were impressed with our work, they wanted us as part of their team on the SVOG project.

What kind of staffing was needed to provide support to the businesses?

We put a team together consisting of five business analysts and one project director to help support businesses pursue funding from this federal grant. We tapped local team members from our New York offices as well as reached across the country to company representatives on a national level who had expertise in business administration, analytics and grant coordination.

What was EDSI’s role in the SVOG?

Earlier this year, EDSI began putting a process in place to help get NYC businesses prepared and ready to apply for the grant when it became available. We spent a lot of time mapping out plans and strategies to provide technical assistance for those applying for the grant, and will continue to serve these businesses until funding runs out. This technical assistance included creating and hosting daily grant-specific webinars as well as scheduling one-on-one appointments with interested businesses to discuss their needs and map out a plan of action.

Through each stage of the project, EDSI provided comprehensive and customized support to each business. A list of tasks commonly handled by the business analysts is included below.

  1. Develop and facilitate grant-specific PowerPoint webinars to give businesses an overview of the SVOG program and process.
  2. Determine if a business and the services they provide meet grant application eligibility requirements.
  3. Review documents to ensure they meet SBA’s requirements.
  4. Communicate updates from SBA whenever new information is released.
  5. System for Award Management (SAM) government account registration assistance, required for each applicant.
  6. One-on-one consultations when requested by business.
  7. Follow-up with businesses, including phone calls and emails every week.
  8. Troubleshooting assistance when errors or uncertainty occurred.
  9. Serve as liaison by calling SBA customer service on behalf of businesses to help get their questions answered.
  10. Provide resources for other grant programs that the business might be eligible for if they weren’t a fit for SVOG or needed extra help in obtaining other grants or loans.
  11. Share weekly updates with SBA regarding webinar attendees, new leads, and status updates

Tell me more about the webinar that was developed as a resource for these businesses.

EDSI worked with SBS to develop and finalize a comprehensive SVOG PowerPoint presentation for interested businesses pursuing funding so they could be well-informed before diving into the application process.

Three company representatives volunteered to serve as facilitators and we offered the webinar 5 days a week for businesses to join and learn about the SVOG program. Besides the main facilitator, our business analysts handled the Q&A and chat portions of the presentation. Our first webinar exceeded the online attendance limit – we ended up with 108 small business attendees! Webinar attendees were also invited to schedule a one-on-one consultation with an analyst following the presentation. As the SBA updated grant program information, we continued to edit the presentation to reflect the most current data issued by the SBA.

In total, we offered the webinar 42 times between February-June of 2021, with nearly 400 attendees. Pictured below is one of the slides from the webinar presentation.

What other communication and learning tools were used to ensure businesses were well-informed?

In order to ensure we provided the most up-to-date grant program information to our clients, our Project Director met daily with the SBS. Our team continued to review the SVOG website, answered questions from each business regarding their application and eligibility, and provided emotional support to those businesses who were struggling through this difficult time and were sometimes just looking for someone to listen.

I’m so proud of our team; they provided such compassionate care and assistance to each and every businessperson. They also learned an entirely new CRM data system called Dynamics. Our business analysts would go into the system, find the new businesses that were interested and then set up one-on-one appointments with them. This system tracked all engagements that the analysts had with each business including emails, documents, and information on grant award recipients. We also utilized Calendly as a scheduling platform so businesses could directly access analysts’ calendars to set up appointments at their convenience.

How many businesses have you worked with and how much funding has been awarded?

EDSI business analysts have provided technical support to 268 NYC businesses who are at various stages of the SVOG application process: some are in the process of applying, some have been awarded funding, and others are awaiting a funding decision.

As of October 2021, funding totaling $92,368,571.36 has been received by businesses assisted by EDSI.

For a list of grantees and how much funding they received, visit the SBA website’s data page here.

Does EDSI hope to be involved in more opportunities like this in the future?

Yes. We are continuing to explore relationships with different organizations and funding sources in and around NYC and the country to be able to help great companies and great communities train and retain great people. Being involved in this project was a great benefit for several reasons:

  1. It grew our relationship with SBS even more.
  2. This type of project continues to demonstrate our ability to be flexible, support small businesses, which is a big focus and huge value, particularly in NYC. This great experience will help us explore and secure similar opportunities in the future like this across different industries.
  3. From a learning and development standpoint, our team members who had never been part of this type of work before gained a brand new set of skills. Learning the Dynamics CRM system was a huge accomplishment and it helped build a strong team of experts through this project. Now these team members can continue to support in this realm of work, not only in New York, but across the country.

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