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Startup Tucson scaling up with $1.4M small biz training grant

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Startup Tucson scaling up with $1.4M small biz training grant

  • Startup Tucson's Justin Williams took to a tabletop to address a crowd at the CoLab Workspace launch party in January.
    Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.comStartup Tucson's Justin Williams took to a tabletop to address a crowd at the CoLab Workspace launch party in January.
  • courtesy Startup Tucson

A Tucson nonprofit group has been awarded a $1.44 million contract from the Small Business Administration to connect early-stage small businesses with entrepreneurial training. Startup Tucson's "next big thing" is Thryve Next, which will receive funding under the SBA's ScaleUp America program.

The group "was one of only seven successful applicants nationwide out of over 60 proposals and Tucson is the only community west of the Mississippi River" to be awarded one of the grants, said Justin Williams, the founder of Startup Tucson.

"Tucson is on the verge of an economic transformation and the ScaleUp America program is injecting over $1 million into our community at a critical time," Williams said in a news release.

The SBA said ScaleUp America "builds on the agency's core mission by supporting communities' efforts to deliver targeted intensive assistance to established high-potential small businesses and entrepreneurs that are primed for growth beyond the start-up or early stages."

"Ninety-two percent of new jobs come from the expansion of existing businesses," said Maria Contreras-Sweet, the agency's administrator, said in announcing ScaleUp America in June. The program is intended to "provide business consulting, and we'll offer matchmaking with corporate and government buyers," she said.

"The Desert Angels invests significantly in high-growth companies like those supported by Startup Tucson," said Dan Janes, a co-founder of 42Six Solutions and a member of the Desert Angels group of investors. "These high-growth companies bring in new dollars and grow new jobs in the regional economy," he said in the Startup Tucson release.

The program is "a national model for entrepreneurial cultivation," Williams said.

The business-accelerator program will focus on "growth-oriented companies with annual revenues between $150,000 and $500,000, approximately two years old and in the early growth business cycle," he said.

The nonprofit Startup Tucson is one of the driving forces behind the free CoLab Workspace, 17 E. Pennington Ave. That project split from the Gangplank group in January.

Small businesses interested in Thryve Next can email or visit

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