WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today announced that his virtual guests for President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union Address will be Spencer Jones, owner of Chick & Ruth’s Delly in Annapolis; Omar Muhammad, Director of the Entrepreneurial Development Assistance Center (EDAC) at Morgan State University; and Lisa Smith, Executive Director of Bowie Business Innovation Center (Bowie BIC). Earlier this afternoon, Cardin hosted a virtual meeting with his guests to discuss what they hope to hear from the president.
“President Joe Biden’s first year in office has been focused on building a better America with a bottom-up economy that works for everyone, and I am proud to attend his first State of the Union address with guests who are on the frontlines of that effort in Maryland,” Cardin said. “I am using this opportunity to reflect on President Biden’s and Senate Democrats’ efforts to enact policies to empower underserved entrepreneurs. I am also using this opportunity to hear directly from Spencer, Omar, and Lisa about what more can be done to help underserved entrepreneurs reach their full potential.”
Top Row: Omar Muhammad; Spencer Jones
Bottom Row: Lisa Smith; Senator Cardin
Cardin’s guests reflect his commitment to increasing federal capacity to support underserved entrepreneurs. As Senate Democrats’ lead negotiator of Congress’ small business relief efforts during the pandemic, Cardin has championed equity-focused policies that successfully directed relief to the most vulnerable small businesses according to recent studies.
Spencer Jones’ restaurant, Chick & Ruth’s Delly, is an institution on Annapolis’ Main Street, and the restaurant was able to keep its doors open during the pandemic with support through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which was created by President Biden’s historic American Rescue Plan.
Cardin’s other guests, Omar Muhammad and Lisa Smith, represent organizations operated by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that are key pillars of Maryland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
As Director of EDAC at Morgan State University, Omar Muhammad oversees the university’s entrepreneurial development initiatives. The initiatives include the Baltimore Women’s Business Center, which is funded through a grant from the Small Business Administration, and the Returning Citizens Inspired to Develop Entrepreneurial Ventures (R.I.D.E.) Center, which is funded through a grant from the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).
As Executive Director of the Bowie BIC, Lisa Smith manages the only business accelerator operated by an HBCU in Maryland. The center provides entrepreneurs in the technology and government contracting industries with mentorship, training, and collaborative workspace to help them launch successful businesses. Cardin’s UPLIFT Act seeks to replicate the success of the Bowie BIC by providing grants to HBCUs to create or expand similar programs.