WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, during Small Business Week, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act. The 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 students to start their own businesses.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and are critical to the success of our communities in North Carolina and across the nation,” said Senator Tillis. “It’s vital that we continue to develop the minority entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow to sustain economic growth and job creation. I’m proud to reintroduce 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.”
“I love the proposal to support minority student entrepreneurs with training and start-up costs so they can turn their ideas and energy into businesses,” said UNC President Peter Hans. “Senator Tillis recognizes the ability of our historically Minority Serving Institutions within the UNC System to do exactly that.”
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 a 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. North Carolina is home to the most HBCUs in the nation.