How a $2.8B PPP credit shortfall, and the need to innovate, sparked an idea

SparkJam Marquee
By Ryan Feldman
Over the course of the last three months, once-stable businesses are now facing uncertainty due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through no fault of their own, small-business owners have been forced to furlough or even fire staff, with others having to shut down completely.
In the state of Virginia alone, as of May 19th the credit shortfall following PPP disbursements was $2.8 billion with an expectation that 52% of small businesses nationwide will be out of business within six months.
Even more troubling, minority-owned businesses are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Although only comprising 37% of the labor force in February of this year, minorities accounted for 58% of the newly unemployed on March 14th. 
Out of difficult times, comes the opportunity for all us to find ways of creating positive energy going forward. 
The pain of the moment is real, but how we react will be the testament for the future.
Just over a month ago, The Rocket Factory along with Activation Capital, Elevation Advertising, Profit Optics, and the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation united to form the idea that has become SparkJam 2020.
It was our collective concern around the dire need for small businesses to get back on their feet and continue to provide jobs, services, and opportunities for the communities in Virginia. 
By bridging our technology ecosystem and our small business community our goal is three-fold:
  1. Find innovative solutions to Virginia’s small business operating challenges
  2. Raise money and get it quickly in the hands of Virginia’s small business
  3. Continue to raise positive awareness for the need to support our statewide economy
And while the problem is large, our goal is to be the “spark.” 
Out of SparkJam, we’re hopeful to inspire new ways of thinking that will create a resilient Virginia business community for the future.
The SparkJam Innovation Challenge
It starts now with the SparkJam Innovation Challenge in partnership with the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation as well as Virginia Tech, William & Mary, and Old Dominion University. We’re asking small businesses through June 19 to submit their operating challenges by video. Virginia’s state university students are standing by to help and will be working on solutions during our live online event day and beyond.
SparkJam 2020 Live Event Day
Speaking of our event day slated for June 26,  we’re excited to share that our sessions are filling up fast and will be made up of a diverse group of people offering knowledge and know-how from across our state.
With the $2.8B credit shortfall and the need to innovate now upon us, our collective mission is clear: bring about positive, sustainable change to our state’s economy.
Business owners across our state are encouraged to submit their videos by June 19 and everyone is invited to attend our live online event June 26. 
Sponsorship opportunities exist for the event. Please contact Todd Feldman to learn more.