Growing America Through Entrepreneurship: Findings from the Evaluation of Project GATE

Official Title
Growing America Through Entrepreneurship: Findings from the Evaluation of Project GATE
Jacob Benus, Sheena McConnell, Jeanne Bellotti, Theodore Shen, Kenneth Fortson, & Daver Kahvecioglu.
Workforce Development
Report prepared for the U.S. Department of Labor

U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. (2008). Growing America Through Entrepreneurship: Findings from the evaluation of Project GATE . Washington, DC: Benus, J., McConnell, S., Bellotti, J., Shen, T., Fortson, K., & Kahvecioglu, D.

Funded by DOL, the Project GATE demonstration was implemented in seven sites in three states—Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Maine--between Fall 2003 and Summer 2005. Almost anyone who was interested in starting or growing a small business was eligible to participate in Project GATE. GATE participants were offered an assessment of their business needs, classroom training, and one-on-one business counseling in developing their businesses and applying to the SBA MicroLoan Program or other sources of business financing. Nonprofit community-based organizations (CBOs) and the SBA's Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provided the services.

DOL's One-Stop Career Centers were the gateways to the program. These centers, which provide a wide range of services for job seekers and employers, conducted outreach for Project GATE and hosted the program's orientation sessions. Project GATE added another service--one focused on helping people become self-employed--to the One-Stop Career Centers' arsenal of employment services. By offering this service in One-Stop Career Centers, Project GATE intended to attract new and more diverse customers.

This report presents the findings of an evaluation of Project GATE. It addresses three main questions:

  1. Can Project GATE be replicated?
  2. Is Project GATE effective in increasing business ownership, employment, and self-sufficiency?
  3. Are the benefits of Project GATE commensurate with its costs?

The cornerstone of the evaluation is the random assignment of 4,198 eligible Project GATE applicants to either a program group or a control group. Program group members were offered Project GATE services; control group members were not. Using two waves of surveys and Unemployment Insurance (UI) administrative data, the outcomes of both the program and control group members were observed for about 18 months after random assignment.