Justin Dawkins of Collab Capital discuss venture capital funding

Almost $10 billion is available nationally for lending to, and investing in, small businesses. The Atlanta Fed collaborates with several partners to help southeastern states get ready to take advantage of this funding opportunity.

On August 2–3, the Atlanta Fed’s Community and Economic Development (CED) team, in partnership with the US Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and St. Louis, convened southeastern economic and community development practitioners, tribal government representatives, and community development financial institution lending partners to converse about the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The event was an in-person opportunity for the state entities that are delivering SSBCI funding to discuss how best to deploy the various funding programs to small business owners and entrepreneurs across southeastern states, including underserved and very small businesses.

Topics covered during the two days included:

  • Developing a better understanding of the macroeconomic environment in which small businesses and small business lenders and investors are operating
  • Understanding key findings from the Federal Reserve System’s Small Business Credit Survey to help improve barriers small businesses currently face when accessing credit
  • Imparting lessons learned from the 2010 SSBCI 1.0 program; sharing best practices in deploying credit, capital, and technical assistance to firms owned by minorities, women, people with disabilities, veterans, Native American community members, and other historically under-invested entrepreneurs.

In welcoming remarks, Atlanta Fed vice president André Anderson reminded attendees that the purpose of programs like SSBCI is to “make sure that all small businesses can access the credit and capital they need to grow, pivot, innovate, and create and retain jobs.” SSBCI and the conference, Anderson said, represent an opportunity to help “further catalyze and celebrate the ingenuity and grit that southern small business owners possess” along with “the entrepreneurial spirit of our region and the small business aspirations of the generations that follow ours.” The Atlanta Fed has a robust history of supporting research, analysis, and best-practice sharing to increase access to capital for southern small businesses, having been one of the initial Reserve Banks to develop the now Federal Reserve System-wide Small Business Credit Survey. Further, as a partner in the Southern Cities Economic Inclusion Initiative, the Atlanta Fed provides southern cities training on small business capacity building, economic development activities, and capital programs to support all city residents. The training focuses on creating opportunities for underrepresented groups. Anderson also noted that “small business ownership can help enhance the economic mobility and resilience of households and communities,” which is a strategic priority of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.1

What Is the State Small Business Credit Initiative?

SSBCI is a federal program that was originally created as part of the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act. In 2021, Congress reauthorized and expanded the 2010 SSBCI through the American Rescue Plan Act.2 The current SSBCI legislation enables the Treasury to award nearly $10 billion of program funding to states, territories, the District of Columbia, and tribal governments that develop and design programs to support small businesses and entrepreneurs in their geographies. With this funding, the program represents “the largest and most expansive one-time federal investment in Tribal governments for small business financing.”3

Conference attendees attend a breakout session
Conference attendees attend a breakout session.

In practice, several programs actually fall under the SSBCI umbrella, including Capital Access Programs, with loan portfolio insurance and loss reserves; other Credit Support Programs with including collateral support, loan guarantees, loan participation, and equity/venture capital funding programs; and Technical Assistance Programs. Selection of partners, design, and execution of different aspects of SSBCI are delegated to each participating jurisdiction and their “implementing entity,”4 which can select the most appropriate tools from the available suite of programs to meet local needs. The SSBCI also enabled the Minority Business Development Agency of the US Department of Commerce to launch the Capital Readiness Program, which targets incubators and accelerators that provide services to underserved businesses. Loan Participation programs are by far the most popular SSBCI tool currently being deployed, with $2.3 billion having been collectively allocated for Loan Participation Programs across all states and territories—and every participating southeastern state running one more Loan Participation Programs.5 Tribal jurisdictions in the Southeast also collectively allocated $2.7 million to Loan Participation Programs.

Deploying SSBCI Funds to Small Businesses in the Southeast

The Treasury has approved plans that total over $1 billion under the current SSBCI program for the six states within the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s district, with Florida allocated the most (see the chart). The Treasury disburses funding to participating jurisdictions in tranches. Under the statute, the Treasury’s disbursements and obligations for the SSBCI program must be completed by September 30, 2030.6 Implementing jurisdictions will report regularly to Treasury on their activities during the execution period.

SSBCI State Requests by Program Type

SSBCI State Requests by Program Type graph

Source: US Department of the Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative, Atlanta Fed staff calculations

According to a Treasury SSCBI report, “as of June 15, 2023, 46 participating jurisdictions are implementing 78 individual SSBCI supported lending programs targeted for deployment or administration by or with CDFIs, totaling $3.4 billion or 64% of all SSBCI supported lending programs.”7 If you are a small business owner interested in learning more about how to apply for potential funding, be sure to reach out directly to your state’s partner to understand which lenders are underwriting loans and investments. See the Treasury’s List of SSBCI Capital Programs and Contacts.

Lending institutions, including community development financial institutions, interested in learning more about how to connect borrowers to SSBCI funding in your state should also reach out to the corresponding implementing entity listed in the document noted above.

The Atlanta Fed’s Community and Economic Development team will continue to engage with partners on SSBCI execution, with a particular focus on how the program dovetails with the Community Reinvestment Act and how deployed funds can support an inclusive economy. To learn more about the SSBCI and its various elements, see the following US Department of the Treasury resources:

close up photo of Harold Pettigrew speaking at SSBCI Harold Pettigrew of the Opportunity Finance Network, Janis Bowdler of the US Department of the Treasury, and David Jackson of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta discuss marketing small business products to minority and woman-owned businesses.

By Mary Hirt, CED policy specialist, and Charlene "Charly" van Dijk, CED senior adviser. The views expressed here are the authors' and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the authors' responsibility.


1 Visit the Atlanta Fed website to learn more about how the Atlanta Fed supports economic mobility and resilience.

2 For more information about the American Rescue Plan Act and the SSCBI, see https://www.congress.gov/117/bills/hr1319/BILLS-117hr1319enr.pdf and https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/small-business-programs/state-small-business-credit-initiative-ssbci.

3 US Department of the Treasury, State Small Business Credit Initiative Fact Sheet, June 2023, p. 2, State Small Business Credit Initiative Fact Sheet June 2023 (treasury.gov).

4 Implementing entities are generally the state offices that design and deliver SSBCI programming, either themselves or with lending partners, or some combination thereof. For a list of implementing jurisdictions by state, see the US Department of the Treasury’s List of SSBCI Capital Programs and Contacts.

5 Capital statistics cited were included in presentations from Treasury officials at the 2023 SSBCI Southeast Regional Conference.

6 American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Public Law 117-2 (2021), p. 66, https://www.congress.gov/117/plaws/publ2/PLAW-117publ2.pdf.

7 US Department of the Treasury, State Small Business Credit Initiative: Opportunities for Community Development Financial Institution Loan Funds, p. 1, https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/CDFI-SSBCI.pdf.