The U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of $35 million in funds to develop, enhance and promote Self-Employment Assistance programs in all 50 states, including Puerto Rico, which will receive $504,523.
The funding will be channeled through the local Labor Department to 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 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 U.S. 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.