U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today continued to press for increased federal investment in minority-owned businesses during a hearing titled, “Capital Access for Minority Small Businesses: COVID-19 Resources for an Equitable and Sustainable Recovery.”
“We must invest in the programs that we know work, such as the Minority Business Development Agency, which is the only federal agency dedicated to supporting minority-owned businesses, and the 7(a) Community Advantage Pilot Program, which has a long record of successfully getting capital to minority-owned businesses,” Cardin said during his opening statement. “I have introduced legislation to make both of these vital initiatives permanent and codified, because right now they are not.”
Click here to watch Cardin’s full opening statement, and click here to download an MP4. Click here to watch the full hearing.
More than 50 years ago, the bipartisan Kerner Commission created by President Lyndon Johnson warned of the negative consequences of continued inequality, writing that America was headed toward “two societies, one black, and one white— separate and unequal.”
Cardin called for Congress to use the next economic relief bill as an opportunity to begin making overdue investments in minority-owned businesses: “Last time, we got the funds out the door quickly and helped a lot of people, but far too many minority-owned businesses were left behind… This next stimulus gives us an opportunity to improve on the successes of the CARES Act and do a better job of providing help to minority-owned small businesses. Let us take advantage of this opportunity to avoid the consequences predicted by the Kerner commission fifty years ago, so America is not two societies, separate and unequal.”
Maryland boasts the highest concentration of minority-owned businesses in the country and as committee Ranking Member, Cardin has made increasing federal support for MBEs a top priority.
Last week, Cardin, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Senate Democrats unveiled the Economic Justice Act, a major new legislative proposal to make $350 billion in immediate and long-term investments in Black communities and other communities of color. For far too long, Congress has underfunded critical priorities like public health, child care, infrastructure, and job creation in these communities. The plan would make a historic federal commitment to communities of color through ten major investments over the next five years.
In May, Cardin and Booker released a proposal to make improvements to federal small business relief programs in order to make it easier for minorities and other underserved small business owners to access the capital they need to survive COVID-19. The senators’ proposal also addresses historical, systemic disparities in access to startup and operating capital, as well as technical training and mentorship, so underserved small businesses have the resources they need to adapt their businesses to the changes caused by COVID-19.
In October 2019, Cardin introduced the Ushering Progress by Leveraging Innovation and Future Technology (UPLIFT) Act of 2019, which would foster innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in underserved communities by providing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), minority serving institutions (MSIs), and community colleges with the resources to establish and expand incubators and accelerators for underserved entrepreneurs.
In July 2019, Cardin introduced three bills to increase Small Business Administration (SBA) lending to minority-owned and other underserved entrepreneurs:
the Closing the Credit Gap Act would make permanent SBA’s 7(a) Community Advantage Pilot Program, which has a record of getting capital to minority entrepreneurs at higher rates than the traditional 7(a) program;
the Unlocking Opportunities in Emerging Markets Act would establish an Office of Emerging Markets (OEM) within SBA’s Office of Capital Access to ensure that SBA’s access to capital initiatives address the specific needs of entrepreneurs in underserved domestic emerging markets in a coordinated way; and
the Small-Dollar and Veterans Loans Enhancement Act would eliminate or reduce fees on SBA 7(a) small-dollar loans of $150,000 or less, which make up the majority of the loans that go to women-, minority- and veteran-owned and rural small businesses.