Press Release

June 25, 2020
Baltimore Congressional Delegation Announces More Than $450,000 to Support Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses and Underserved Community Entrepreneurs

BALTIMORE – Members of the Baltimore congressional delegation including U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, and Kweisi Mfume (all D-Md.) announced $450,228 to support minority- and women-owned businesses, lift up underserved community entrepreneurs, spur economic growth and create jobs across the Baltimore metro region.

Through funds from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) Economic Development Administration (EDA) Opportunity Zones Assistance Project, nonprofit Operation HOPE and Morgan State University will provide training sessions, financial guidance and technical assistance to 1,240 Baltimore-area business owners and community entrepreneurs, with a focus on women-owned and minority-owned business ventures. The federal investment will be matched with local funding to cover the full project cost.

“As a result of systemic and entrenched injustices in our society, businesses located in underserved communities – and especially businesses owned by women and people of color – have faced tremendous barriers to accessing the financial resources and technical support they need to succeed,” the lawmakers said. “With strategic investments, more minority-owned and women-owned businesses can get off the ground, prosper, and boost local economies with good-paying jobs. We will continue working to deliver federal resources that help small business owners and strengthen Maryland’s economy for generations to come.”

“Given our mission and designation as Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, we are looking forward to working with Operation HOPE and the U.S. EDA to assist in facilitating economic empowerment and participating in the community uplift of minority entrepreneurs, women-owned businesses and distressed communities that have been disproportionately, adversely impacted by COVID-19,” said David Wilson, president of Morgan State University.

“This significant commitment from our Congressional leaders in Maryland will have a meaningful impact on the many minority- and women-owned businesses in the Baltimore area that have not previously had access to the kind of financial guidance that can help propel them to new levels of success,” said John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE. “At Operation HOPE, we are focused on empowering individuals and small businesses to improve their financial wellbeing, and know that this partnership is especially important to Baltimore businesses during these particularly challenging times.”

Operation HOPE is a nonprofit organization working to disrupt poverty and empower low- and moderate-income youths and adults by focusing on financial dignity and inclusion.

See here for more information about the Opportunity Zones Assistance Project.

The grant award follows the Small Business Administration’s announcement last month that Morgan State was awarded a grant to open a new Women’s Business Center to provide mentorship and technical training to entrepreneurs in the Baltimore region.

Through his role as Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Senator Cardin has consistently worked to ameliorate the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic consequences on minority communities in Maryland and nationwide.