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SBA Boosts Economic Impact of Accelerators

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced today that Great Turning Advisors, a Morris County-based social business accelerator, was one of 80 winners of the agency’s second annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.

With the $50,000 cash prize, Great Turning Advisors’ founder Steven Boughton is launching an accelerator fund to invest in early stage companies that are focused on solving social and environmental problems.  In total, the SBA allocated $4 million in cash prizes to winners who represented 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

“SBA is continuing to make advances in supporting unique organizations that help the start-up community grow, become commercially viable, and have a real and sustained economic impact,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “Through the wide-spread outreach of this competition, we are able to reach entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country. My commitment is to make our resources available to 21st century entrepreneurs where they are, and these accelerators, also known as incubators and innovation hubs, are the gathering place for today’s innovators and disruptors.”

SBA Region II Regional Administrator Kellie LeDet, who oversees all of the agency’s programs and services for New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands said, “Accelerators serve entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing and tech start-ups, to farming and biotech – with many focused on creating a diverse and inclusive small business community.”

In accepting these funds, Great Turning Advisors will also be committing to quarterly reporting for one year and is required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained. 

“We reported to Congress a baseline of 2014’s fifty winners – made up of about 1,500 companies that have raised $600 million and employ nearly 5,000 people,” said LeDet. “With the Class of 2015, the number of entrepreneurs we touch will grow significantly.”

“We know that accelerators provide valuable resources to potential startups: a physical infrastructure to work in their infancy, mentoring, business-plan assistance, networking, opportunities to obtain venture capital, and introductions to potential customers, partners and suppliers—all critical elements to ensuring that small businesses flourish and succeed,” said LeDet. “We believe that Great Turning Advisors can have a significant impact on startups.

“This is a totally different approach for the SBA and allows us to make a greater impact to an area in a short amount of time,” added LeDet. “We’re big on measuring return on investment and the impact it could have on local communities.   The bottom line here is accelerating the process of getting a fledgling company up and running and spurring job creation.”

Typically, an accelerator will take a single-digit chunk of equity in externally developed ideas in return for small amounts of capital and mentorship. They’re generally condensed into a three to four month program at the end of which the start-ups graduate. 

This year’s applications were judged by more than 40 experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, capital formation and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sector.  The first panel of judges reviewed over 400 applications and presentations and established a pool of 180 highly qualified finalists.  The second panel evaluated the finalists’ presentations and pitch videos and selected the 80 winners. 


“SBA has created connective tissue amongst the nearly 130 winning entrepreneurial ecosystems now part of the Growth Accelerator Fund,” said LeDet.  “We will continue to explore ways to creatively harness this powerful network and connect startups to each other and federal government resources.”

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