By Afro Staff
Last week Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07) introduced the Parren Mitchell Minority Business Education and Empowerment Act of 2019.
The Parren Mitchell Minority Business Education and Empowerment Act will facilitate federal partnerships between the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The bill requires that the SBA distribute grants to a trial group of HBCUs of differing sizes to establish Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) on their campuses to provide technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.
“As a proud Howard University graduate and a member of Morgan State University’s Board of Regents, I know the vital role Historically Black Colleges and Universities play in preparing young people to become leaders in their communities,” said Rep. Cummings. “Meanwhile, small businesses power the American economy while creating jobs and opportunities within communities. The Small Business Administration has signaled that it wants to be a leader in enhancing federal partnerships and resource allocation to HBCUs; this legislation will help facilitate this growth and develop data to inform further SBA activity with HBCUs on a larger scale.”
The bill requires that the SBA submit an annual report to Congress regarding the entrepreneurship programs developed at the HBCU SBDCs under the grants, their curriculums, and the success or failures of their implementations. The report would also outline the economic impact of the SBDC counseling provided at each HBCU under the grants, and the number of small businesses assisted through the programs.
The mission of the SBA is to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation and to help Americans start, build, and grow businesses. The SBA routinely works with colleges and universities to strengthen or expand business development and foster entrepreneurship. However, SBA’s support is not evenly distributed throughout higher education; a March 2019 Government Accountability Office report found that “SBA’s key programs and outreach activities that foster entrepreneurship do not specifically target HBCUs.”
Parren J. Mitchell represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971 until 1987. During his time in Congress, Congressman Mitchell chaired the House Committee on Small Business, where he advocated heavily for capacity building in business and education as a vehicle to lift a generation.