August 04, 2023

Van Hollen, Cardin, Raskin Announce More Than $6 Million in Federal Grants for Local Organizations to Support Maryland Underserved and Minority Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

Capital Readiness Program funds will support the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council in Silver Spring and the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center in Easton

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressman Jamie Raskin (all D-Md.) announced that two Maryland organizations will receive a combined $6 million in federal funding to support underserved and minority small businesses and entrepreneurs. The funds, delivered through the Capital Readiness Program, will go to the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council in Silver Spring and the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center in Easton. In addition, the Asian/Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce will receive small business incubator funds that will benefit Maryland entrepreneurs. These federal dollars will help assist and train minority and other underserved entrepreneurs seeking resources, tools, and technical assistance to start or scale their businesses in high-growth industries such as healthcare, climate resilient technology, asset management, infrastructure, and more.

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Capital Readiness Program is funded by the Department of Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which the lawmakers fought to increase funding for under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The MBDA is the only federal agency solely dedicated to supporting the development and expansion of minority business enterprises (MBEs).

“Investing in entrepreneurs and businesses in underserved areas is one of the best ways we can grow our economy and build more shared prosperity. These federal funds will provide more Marylanders with the tools to succeed – creating new opportunities for them and their businesses. That’s why I fought to invest in the MBDA and why we pushed for these outstanding organizations to receive these funds,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“Across Maryland, I am constantly hearing from small business owners about a lack of access to capital. It is not an equal playing field. The Biden-Harris administration understands the importance of helping underserved entrepreneurs. Without these small businesses, our Maryland communities would not be the vibrant, economic engines that push us forward. It’s why, I fought to make MBDA permanent so that everyone can have an equal share of the pie,” said Senator Cardin, Chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “I look forward to the impact that these federal dollars will have on entrepreneurs in Maryland and applaud the Biden-Harris administration for their focus on underserved small businesses. Today’s announcement is a clear example of why we’re seeing a small business boom led by women, and in particular, women of color in Maryland and nationwide.”

“Starting a business and growing it into a thriving engine of commerce can only happen with a network of community support. Opening a business is a challenging task for any entrepreneur, and Marylanders from diverse backgrounds often face additional daunting barriers that stand in the way of success,” said Representative Raskin. “We must continue to invest in minority-owned businesses to achieve the equal opportunity that is a prerequisite for any democratic society, which is why I will continue working with our federal delegation to build on the resources we are announcing today for business owners and entrepreneurs in our communities.”

Vice President Kamala Harris announced the competitive awards this morning, part of $125 million in technical grants to boost small businesses and entrepreneurships nationwide. According to the White House, “The Capital Readiness Program is the largest-ever direct Federal investment in small business incubators and accelerators of its kind. Administered by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), which was made permanent and expanded thanks to the [Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act], the Capital Readiness Program is also the largest initiative in the over 50-year history of the MBDA.”

Award winners:

  • Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council’s Ingenuity Consortium ($3 million) is a regional approach to supporting entrepreneurial opportunities for underserved small business owners through a collaborative of six Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions—like the University of Maryland Global Campus, Bowie State University, Morgan State University and Virginia State University—and six capital access partners.
  • Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center ($3 million) is a nonprofit organization created to help advance an entrepreneurship ecosystem on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. These new funds will allow the center to scale its dynamic Farm-Fish-Food (F3) Tech Program to reach underserved entrepreneurs. It will work with students and faculty at Maryland HBCUs – Morgan State University, Bowie State University, Coppin State University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore – as well as Delaware State University. The funds also will expand opportunities with three SSBCIs in Maryland.

Asian/Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce serves as a voice for the Asian American and Pacific Islander business community, building capacity and fostering economic growth through advocacy, partnerships and programs. They will receive incubator and accelerator funds for national programs, as well as support for small businesses in Maryland, the DMV region and seven other states.