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Closing the digital divide: SBA helps firm upscale & serve

Always Giving Back (AGB) Investigative Services is the largest black-owned and award-winning security service firm in the nation located in 15 states with more than 1000 employees. Established in 2001 by John Griffin, AGB Investigative Services provides officer, patrol, executive protection, cybersecurity, background checks and consultative security services.

Griffin was mindful about relocating AGB in the heart of the southside of Chicago in the Englewood community to offer career opportunities to the underserved in the public safety field.
“We provide workforce development and life-skill training for those in underserved communities,” said Griffin. “Our innovative technology solutions and standards-based methodology separate us from the competition.”

Griffin applied for the SBA’s 504 lending program in April 2019. The funds allowed Griffin to move his headquarters from Beverly to Englewood and increase the square footage from 5,000 to 16,500 square feet, upscaling his business and increasing AGB’s workforce.

SBA’s 504 lending program provides long-term, fixed rate financing of up to $5 million for major fixed assets that promote business growth and job creation. 504 loans are available through Certified Development Companies (CDCs), SBA's community-based partners who regulate nonprofits and promote economic development within their communities. CDCs are certified and regulated by the SBA.

Additionally, AGB is a graduate of the SBA’s 8(a) program and is a minority business enterprise (MBE).
The 8(a) Business Development Program helps underserved entrepreneurs access federal contracting opportunities. Each year, the federal government awards five percent of all contracting dollars to disadvantaged businesses, and 8(a) program participants can compete for those contracts.
“The 8(a) Program gave me the opportunity to gain a foothold in government contracting,” said Griffin.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges to the economy, AGB has remained firm and new security services such as social distance enforcement increased demand. The new AGB headquarters as a result of the 504 SBA loan became a staple in the community for those in need of jobs during these unprecedented times.

AGB used its presence at its new headquarters to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The opportunities manifested by this new location made way for additional services such as cybersecurity which will help bridge the digital gap for the African American community on the southside of Chicago.

“The company will contribute to closing the digital divide in 2021 by providing high-tech job opportunities to those in underserved communities,” said Griffin.