WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today lauded the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) announcement that it has awarded a grant to Rockville Economic Development, Inc. (REDI) to operate a new Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Bowie State University (BSU), the oldest Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Maryland. The new center is the fourth WBC in Maryland, joining a WBC in Rockville that is also operated by REDI, as well as a WBC in Baltimore operated by Morgan State University and a WBC in Salisbury operated by Maryland Capital Enterprises.
The new WBC is an expansion of a satellite program that REDI has been operating at BSU, and it will focus on supporting student entrepreneurs, increasing federal contracting opportunities, and expanding pathways to the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs. BSU also hosts the Bowie Business Innovation Center (Bowie BIC)—a first-of-its-kind, award-winning business accelerator that helps federal contractors enrolled in the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program secure federal contracts.
“I applaud Bowie State University and President Breaux for supporting entrepreneurs and innovators in Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland,” Senator Cardin said. “I am especially proud that the WBC will focus on empowering BSU students, federal contractors, and innovators, which will pay dividends to our community for years to come. BSU continues to demonstrate that by partnering with HBCUs, the SBA can better deliver services and capital to entrepreneurs in underserved and underbanked communities.”
“REDI is thrilled to expand its impactful relationship with BSU and the Bowie Business Innovation Center. The Maryland Women’s Business Center has been helping women entrepreneurs launch, grow, and sustain businesses that create jobs and strengthen economic development for over 10 years,” said Susan Prince, REDI Board Chair. “We are honored to support more students and business owners through this grant and partnership.”
“We are very pleased to have an integral role in providing more opportunities for entrepreneurs in Maryland,” said Dr. Aminta Breaux, President of Bowie State University. “The Bowie Women’s Business Center at BSU will be operated by the Bowie BIC, the only business incubator on an HBCU campus in Maryland, expanding support and guidance to our student entrepreneurs. We thank Senator Cardin for his ongoing efforts to bring additional resources in support of aspiring entrepreneurs here at Bowie State University and throughout the region.”
The WBC at BSU is the most recent addition in a broad expansion of Maryland’s entrepreneurial development and innovation resources spearheaded by Cardin. In May 2020, Cardin secured funding for the WBCs in Baltimore and Salisbury. Cardin also championed the opening of Maryland’s first Veterans Business Outreach Center at the University of Maryland last November.
On May 9, Cardin and Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced $4 million in congressionally directed spending to support innovation programs at BSU. The senators secured $3 million for the Bowie BIC and $1 million for the university to develop a new laboratory for hydroponics research. The Bowie BIC served as the model for Cardin’s UPLIFT Act, which would create an Innovation Centers Program within the SBA to award competitive cooperative agreements worth as much as $400,000 annually to HBCUs, minority serving institutions (MSIs), and community colleges to establish and expand incubators and accelerators.