SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative

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Emerging Leaders Initiative provides free entrepreneurship education and training for executives of small, poised-for-growth companies that are potential job creators.  This intensive executive entrepreneurship series includes nearly 100 hours of classroom time. It also provides opportunities for small business owners to work with experienced coaches and mentors, attend workshops, and develop connections with their peers, local leaders, and the financial community.

Since its inception in 2008, the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative has trained over 5,000 small business owners, creating over 6,500 jobs, generating over $300 million in new financing, and securing over $3.16 billion in government contracts. 

Given the success of SBA’s Emerging Leaders, the SBA has expanded the initiative to include 60 locations to help growing entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Training Overview

Over the course of seven months, participants are given the opportunity to work with experienced mentors, attend specialized workshops and develop connections with their peers, city leaders, and the financial community. Recruitment for the Emerging Leaders Initiative occurs on an annual basis, beginning in February and classes typically begin in April. The Initiative incorporates a curriculum that is research-based and nationally scalable, enabling participating businesses to engage in focused development and expansion strategies, including options for accessing new capital and securing government contracts. 

Government statistics confirm that underserved small businesses are the engines of sustained economic growth and job creation. Small businesses in underserved cities added close to three times as many jobs to their local economies as large companies over the last decade. SBA launched the Initiative to capitalize on this proven capacity for stimulating jobs and growth in America’s cities.

Eligibility and Requirements

The Emerging Leaders Initiative is an intensive executive-level series intended to accelerate the growth of high-potential small businesses in America’s underserved cities.  Developed by SBA and drawing on the experiences of advisors and business leaders in urban communities across the country, this comprehensive curriculum provides the tools to catapult your company to the next level and help it emerge as a force in your community.

Do I qualify to participate?

This training is for established business owners and is not for start-ups or people who are thinking about starting a business. The Emerging Leaders Initiative advanced training series is open to small business owners and executives that:

  • Have annual revenues of at least $400,000
  • Have been in business for at least 3 years
  • Have at least one employee, other than self

What are the key program highlights? 

  • Customized training for “C” (CEO, COO, etc.) level executives with demonstrated business sustainability of at least 3 years in business and annual revenue of at least $400K 
  • Participant recruitment begins in February through SBA’s local district offices and classes typically begin in April
  • A three-year strategic growth action plan with benchmarks and performance targets to help the participant emerge as self-sustaining businesses that creates jobs and build communities
  • Includes 100 + hours of professional specialized training and peer-to-peer counseling delivered over the course of seven months
  • Specialized areas of training include:
    • Growth Strategies Plans
    • Financing and Access to Capital
    • Government Contracting
    • CEO Mentoring

What types of businesses participate in the program?

There are currently no restrictions on the types of businesses that can participate. Some examples of participating businesses include:  manufacturers, retail/wholesalers, contractors, professional services and food service.

In what ways does the training help my business?

The training is specifically designed to stimulate and support the expansion of your business. The curriculum provides strategies to help you access new avenues of capital. It offers practical tools to pursue new paths for business development. It surrounds you with a network of government resources and local business leaders prepared to invest time and energy in your business.

What are the overall benefits of participation? 

The end result of the executive education prepares and encourages small businesses to move to the next level on their growth trajectory and to help them emerge as self-sustaining businesses that create jobs and build communities.  At the conclusion of the training, entrepreneurs produce a three-year strategic growth action plan with benchmarks and performance targets that will help them access the necessary support and resources to move forward.  

Is participation in the Emerging Leaders Initiative free?

YES! The only cost is your time and commitment to complete the curriculum over the course of seven months. All other costs are covered by SBA and our local partners. 

How do I sign up?

Business executives interested in participating should complete the online registration form.  For registration follow up questions, contact your local participating SBA District Office.

2018 Emerging Leaders Locations
(*indicates new location for 2018)

2018 Emerging Leaders Locations
Albany, New YorkMilwaukee, Wisconsin
Albuquerque, New MexicoMinneapolis, Minnesota
Atlanta, GeorgiaMobile, Alabama
Austin , TexasManchester, New Hampshire
Baltimore, MarylandNew Orleans, Louisiana
*Bangor, MaineMiami, Florida
Birmingham, AlabamaNew York, New York
Boise, IdahoNewark, New Jersey
Charlotte, North Carolina.Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Chicago, IllinoisPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
*Cincinnati , OhioPhoenix, Arizona
Dallas, TexasPittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Denver, ColoradoPortland , Oregon
Detroit, MichiganProvidence, Rhode Island
*Fairbanks, AlaskaSacramento, California
*Fairmount, West VirginiaSalt Lake City, Utah
Fargo, North DakotaSan Juan, Puerto Rico
Fresno, CaliforniaSeattle, Washington
Glendale, CaliforniaSpokane, Washington
*Greater Houston, TexasSt. Louis, Missouri
Honolulu, HawaiiSyracuse, New York
Houston, TexasTampa, Florida
Indianapolis, Indiana*Tiffin, Ohio
Jackson, MississippiVermont
*Las Cruces, New MexicoU.S. Virgin Islands
Las Vegas, NevadaWashington, D.C.
Little Rock, ArkansasWichita, Kansas
Los Angeles , CaliforniaWorcester, Massachusetts
Louisville, KentuckyYonkers, New York
Memphis, TennesseeYoungstown, Ohio

For information, contact emergingleaders@sba.gov.