The Small Business Administration has awarded roughly $1 million each to three U.S. states, as well as to emerging small business organizations to develop their cybersecurity infrastructure.
The grants, part of an SBA’s Cybersecurity for Small Businesses pilot program first announced last February, will help nascent businesses build out their cyber defenses from inception. Organizations in Arkansas, Maryland and South Dakota are receiving the initial grants.
Awarded states and institutions are:
- Arkansas: Forge Institute $999,650
- Maryland: Department of Commerce $930,155
- South Dakota: Dakota State University $999,933
Funding Cybersecurity Training and More
Organizations are required to provide training, counseling, remediation and other tailored cybersecurity services for small entities in a variety of industries. The SBA’s total budget for the program for the next 12 months is $3 million, with no single award exceeding $1 million.
The Forge Institute said it will use the grant to strengthen the services offered to Arkansas’ small business community from the Arkansas Cyber Defense Center (ACDC). The ACDC will provide cybersecurity services, including an awareness campaign, training for small businesses on how to develop and use a Cybersecurity Incident Response Playbook, how to interact with law enforcement, and provide an overview of legal agreements and privacy statements.
Scott Anderson, Forge Institute executive director, explained the impact of its grant:
"Our team is excited to receive support from the SBA, which will allow us to further develop capabilities in the Arkansas Cyber Defense Center (ACDC) to engage, train and assess cybersecurity risks for Arkansas' small businesses. Developing cyber resiliency within our small business community is vital to supporting and growing the economic lifeblood of our state."
Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen says the investment will help protect Maryland small businesses’ and their employees and customers:
“Maryland’s small business community is a core driver of our state’s economy, and we need to do everything we can to help them succeed."
Dakota State University said it will use the funds to enable its Madison Cyber Labs to become a hub for research, development and economic opportunity.
Explaining the impact of its grant, SBA South Dakota District Director Jaime Wood noted that there are nearly 90,000 small businesses in the state:
“The SBA cybersecurity investment in DSU further propels collective capability to diminish catastrophic digital threats. We are thrilled to bring this award to South Dakota to increase cyber safety for our small businesses, their customers, and the global supply chain – it is a game changer in the commercial space."
Genesis of the Grants Program
The pilot program sprung from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Congress enacted last year. As cyber attacks are a growing threat to small businesses. Nearly 9-in-10 small business owners surveyed by the SBA reported that their business was vulnerable to a cyber attack. The Federal Bureau of Investigations estimates that in 2021, cybercrimes cost small businesses $2.4 billion.
SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman added perspective to the SBA grants program:
“Cybersecurity is increasingly critical for small businesses and startups as they face rising challenges and cyber risks that could disrupt their operations. With this new funding opportunity, the SBA is leveraging the strengths across our state governments, territories, and tribal governments to provide services to help small businesses get cyber ready and, in the process, fortify our nation's supply chains.”