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Tuesday, May 29, 2012


US Labor Department announces availability of $35 million in grants to implement or improve Self-Employment Assistance programs
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of $35 million in funds to develop, enhance and promote Self-Employment Assistance programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition, guidance released today clarifies that states may enroll participants who are currently receiving or eligible for federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits.

This announcement is the latest in a series of innovative reforms to the Unemployment Insurance program made possible through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which was signed by President Obama in February.

"Self-Employment Assistance has proven to be a valuable tool in helping many unemployed Americans realize the dream of business ownership," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "These grants will help states improve and expand the program while strengthening the economy and creating new jobs as more startups launch and grow."

Participants in these voluntary programs are provided with financial assistance equal to their Unemployment Insurance benefits while they receive important entrepreneurial training and resources to help launch their own businesses. In order to allow participants to devote full-time attention to creating new businesses that have the potential to create additional jobs, state work search requirements are waived.

Grant money can be used by states to implement a new Self-Employment Assistance program or improve the administration of current programs, as well as to promote programs and enroll eligible participants. In order to receive federal funding, states' UI laws must meet the Labor Department's requirements. Five states (Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Oregon) have active Self-Employment Assistance programs and are eligible now to apply for these grant funds. The other states have until June 30, 2013, to submit complete applications to the department.

The Labor Department will work with interested states to assist them in developing legislation as needed, and to implement Self-Employment Assistance programs. The department also will work with states on outreach strategies to identify potential entrepreneurs who are good candidates to start their own businesses. Additionally, the department is partnering with the Small Business Administration to provide technical assistance to states and to ensure that SBA resources are leveraged as states design Self-Employment Assistance programs.