BALTIMORE – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today joined U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, Baltimore small business owners, and representatives from the National Urban League and the Greater Baltimore Urban League at a roundtable discussion to highlight the positive impact that the Community Navigators Pilot Program has delivered to Baltimore entrepreneurs.
“The Community Navigators Pilot Program has now been in operation for nearly six months and it is clear from today’s listening session that it is off to a great start and that the services are in demand,” Cardin said. “I was proud to welcome Administrator Guzman back to Baltimore this morning to highlight this vital program and hear from entrepreneurs about how this program has helped them.
“Our nation is in the midst of a historic surge in new business formation that is being led by minority and women entrepreneurs,” Cardin continued. “We must maximize this opportunity by connecting entrepreneurs at all stages of the business development cycle with the resources they need to thrive, and that is exactly what this pilot program does.”
The Community Navigators Pilot Program was created last year by President Joe Biden’s historic American Rescue Plan. Utilizing a “hub and spoke” model, the program aims to level the playing field for America’s underserved entrepreneurs by bridging the gap between small businesses and vital resources.
The National Urban League received a grant to serve as a “hub,” while the Greater Baltimore Urban League is one of its “spokes.” The model leverages the deep roots and trust that the Greater Baltimore Urban League and similar organizations have in underserved communities to provide entrepreneurs with critical small business development resources while the National Urban League provides overarching support and direction for its various spokes.
The pilot program, which launched in December of last year, has been a welcome addition to Maryland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, which supports the highest concentration of women- and minority-owned businesses in the country. Bringing entrepreneurial development resources to Maryland remains a top priority for Cardin. In May 2020, at Cardin’s urging, SBA awarded grants to create two new Women’s Business Centers in Baltimore and Salisbury. In June 2021, SBA awarded the University of Maryland a grant to operate a Veterans Business Outreach Center for the mid-Atlantic region, serving veteran entrepreneurs in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.