WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced their introduction of the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act. This bipartisan legislation would establish a Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to award grants to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to promote and increase opportunities for minority student business ownership and entrepreneurship.

“In my home state of Nevada, small businesses are the economic engine of our communities, and COVID-19 has posed significant challenges for minority entrepreneurs and small business owners in particular,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation alongside Senator Tillis to address long-standing barriers, exacerbated by the pandemic, that keep entrepreneurs of color from opening the doors to their businesses and thriving. As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I will continue working on forward-thinking legislation that addresses the needs of our minority communities, helps small businesses succeed, and supports Nevada families.”

“Small businesses are critical to the success of our communities in North Carolina and across the nation, and we must continue to develop the minority entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow to sustain economic growth and job creation,” said Senator Tillis. “I'm proud to introduce this legislation to ensure that young entrepreneurs from Minority Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities in our state have the support needed to kick start their businesses.”

"Minority Serving Institutions and Historically-Black Colleges and Universities enrich the communities they're a part of, as they bring diverse perspectives to classroom and policy discussions, research labs, and local businesses through internships and related partnerships,” said Dr. Keith E. Whitfield, President of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). “We fully support legislation that expands opportunities for diverse and talented college students to advance business ideas and ownership, and accelerate innovation that will grow local economies and undoubtedly make communities stronger. The forthcoming generations of students are born entrepreneurs but need the kind of training, education and opportunities MSIs and HBCUs can offer with the help of mechanisms like the legislation proposed so that they can be successful."

“Minority communities and businesses have been hit particularly hard during COVID-19 and we must do more to help entrepreneurs of color launch and grow their businesses,” said Bart Patterson, President of Nevada State College (NSC). “We applaud Senator Rosen for the introduction of the bipartisan Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act. This important legislation will ensure that we are doing everything we can to support minority-owned small businesses during these times of unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The College of Southern Nevada is proud to support Senator Rosen’s Minority Entrepreneurship Act as this legislation aligns with our entrepreneurial initiatives to support minority small business owners in our region and across the state,” said Dr. Federico Zaragoza, President for the College of Southern Nevada (CSN). “We applaud Senator Rosen’s efforts in Congress to assist our diverse and minority CSN students pursue their business development plans.”

“Entrepreneurship is a key factor in driving economic growth and job creation,“ said Antonio R. Flores, President and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). “We applaud Senator Rosen for introducing the bipartisan Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act that will serve to create and expand entrepreneurial ecosystems on minority-serving college campuses promoting minority business entrepreneurship by nurturing innovation, fostering progressive ideas, providing access to capital, and equipping students with the necessary skills to navigate the complexities of business ownership.”

“The Vegas Chamber commends Senator Rosen for introducing the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act to provide resources to support minority entrepreneurs and build a stronger pipeline of diverse small business owners. Maximizing economic growth and prosperity is essential to our region and the United States competing in the global economy. This initiative will help us achieve this goal,” said Mary Beth Sewald, President and CEO of the Vegas Chamber.

“The Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce strongly supports the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act and applauds Senator Rosen for introducing this important legislation,” said Ann Silver, Chief Executive Officer of The Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce. “If funded appropriately, it will create employment opportunities, further career advancement and drive economic empowerment in minority communities, those most affected by the pandemic and most deserving of participation in a future, robust economy.”

“The Henderson Chamber supports Senators Rosen’s bipartisan Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program bill to provide our minority entrepreneurs the opportunity to secure aid to get their business ideas off the ground,” said Scott Muelrath, President/CEO of Henderson Chamber of Commerce. “It's important for our chamber’s members throughout Southern Nevada to create new opportunities to meet the needs associated with starting a small business.”

"The Latin Chamber of Commerce supports this bill because it gives hope and opportunities to the entrepreneurs, who want access to business ownership," said Peter Guzman, President of the Latin Chamber of Commerce.

“We at the Asian Chamber of Commerce are deeply committed to giving small business owners the help and guidance they seek to grow and succeed,” said Sonny Vinuya, President of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce. “Senator Rosen’s Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act will harness the educational content of our higher education institutions to set up aspiring entrepreneurs of color for success. This bill will benefit small businesses in both urban and rural communities, and we are proud to wholeheartedly support the Senator’s efforts to provide meaningful resources for our minority small business community.”

“The Urban Chamber and the businesses we represent appreciate the ongoing support and advocacy by Senator Rosen to ensure equity in the business community. The Minority Entrepreneurship bill will help entrepreneurs of color secure much needed resources and capital to get their business ideas off the ground and potentially help our COVID-19 economic recovery efforts,” said Ken Evans, President of the Urban Chamber of Commerce.

“The Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act goes hand-in-hand with the mission of the Small Business Roundtable, by assisting minority-owned small businesses that have been hit hard during the Covid-19 pandemic and we applaud Senators Rosen and Tillis for the introduction,” said Small Business Roundtable Co-Executive Directors John Stanford and Rhett Buttle. “We are proud to support legislation that will award grants, provide capital, and offer networking, and other resources through the SBA, and we are hopeful that this bill can be a key facilitator in recovery and creation of newly owned small businesses across America.”

BACKGROUND:

Specifically, the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act would:

  • Establish a Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Minority Business Development Agency, to award grants to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Historically-Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in an effort to promote and increase opportunities for minority student business ownership and entrepreneurship;
  • Provide funding for training, counseling, networking, technical assistance, access to capital resources, support for creation of business incubators and accelerators, and business development activities that support minority student entrepreneurs;
  • Offer MSIs and HBCUs the flexibility to utilize grant funding to assist student entrepreneurs with the costs of establishing or expanding a business;
  • Require MSIs and HBCUs to track and submit the number of students they train and counsel, businesses created, and student entrepreneurs that are referred to SBA resources;
  • Require the SBA Administrator to report to Congress on the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant awardees including the names of the institutions awarded with a grant, the total amounts awarded, and unspent funds in the account;
  • Create an Minority Entrepreneurship Advisory Board to develop recommendations for MSIs and HBCUs to better serve minority student entrepreneurs; and
  • Authorize appropriations of $50,000,000 for the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program.

Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) include Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs); Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs); Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs); Alaska Native-Serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions (ANNHs); Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs); and Native American-Serving, Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs). Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are higher education institutions where total Hispanic enrollment of undergraduate full-time students makes up at least 25 percent of total enrollment.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are higher education institutions that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to serve the needs of Black Americans.

Nevada is home to five HSIs: University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), College of Southern Nevada (CSN), Nevada State College (NSC), Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC), and Western Nevada College (WNC). Nevada is also home to two Emerging HSIs: University of Nevada Reno (UNR) and Great Basin College (GBC). Emerging HSIs are those where Hispanic students make up between 15 and 25 percent of total enrollment. UNLV also qualifies as one of the nation’s few Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs).

The bipartisan Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act is endorsed by:

National Endorsements: Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF); Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU); American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC); U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Small Business Roundtable.

Local Endorsements: University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV); University of Nevada, Reno (UNR); Nevada State College (NSC); College of Southern Nevada (CSN); Urban Chamber of Commerce; Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce; Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce; Vegas Chamber; Henderson Chamber of Commerce; Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

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