WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recently, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act. This bipartisan legislation would establish a Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to award grants to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to promote and increase opportunities for minority student business ownership and entrepreneurship.

“Small businesses are critical to the success of our communities in North Carolina and across the nation, and we must continue to develop the minority entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow to sustain economic growth and job creation,” said Senator Tillis. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to ensure that young entrepreneurs from Minority Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities in our state have the support needed to kick start their businesses.”

“In my home state of Nevada, small businesses are the economic engine of our communities, and COVID-19 has posed significant challenges for minority entrepreneurs and small business owners in particular,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation alongside Senator Tillis to address long-standing barriers, exacerbated by the pandemic, that keep entrepreneurs of color from opening the doors to their businesses and thriving. As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I will continue working on forward-thinking legislation that addresses the needs of our minority communities, helps small businesses succeed, and supports Nevada families.”

“I love the proposal to support minority student entrepreneurs with training and start-up costs so they can turn their ideas and energy into businesses,” said UNC President Peter Hans. “Senator Tillis recognizes the ability of our historically Minority Serving Institutions within the UNC System to do exactly that.”

“The NC Chamber is deeply committed to advancing a business climate that empowers all North Carolinians to succeed, and this means working to remove the barriers facing job creators and entrepreneurs of color in our state,” said NC Chamber President and CEO Gary Salamido. “We are proud to support this bipartisan legislation which will connect more small businesses with access to critical resources and foster recovery and growth, both here in North Carolina and nationwide.”

The Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act would:

Establish a Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Minority Business Development Agency, to award grants to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Historically-Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in an effort to promote and increase opportunities for minority student business ownership and entrepreneurship;

Provide funding for training, counseling, networking, technical assistance, access to capital resources, support for creation of business incubators and accelerators, and business development activities that support minority student entrepreneurs;

  • Offer MSIs and HBCUs the flexibility to utilize grant funding to assist student entrepreneurs with the costs of establishing or expanding a business;
  • Require MSIs and HBCUs to track and submit the number of students they train and counsel, businesses created, and student entrepreneurs that are referred to SBA resources;
  • Require the SBA Administrator to report to Congress on the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant awardees including the names of the institutions awarded with a grant, the total amounts awarded, and unspent funds in the account;
  • Create a Minority Entrepreneurship Advisory Board to develop recommendations for MSIs and HBCUs to better serve minority student entrepreneurs; and
  • Authorize appropriations of $50,000,000 for the Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program.

Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) include Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Alaska Native-Serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions (ANNHs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and Native American-Serving, Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs). Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are higher education institutions where total Hispanic enrollment of undergraduate full-time students makes up at least 25 percent of total enrollment.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are higher education institutions that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to serve the needs of Black Americans. North Carolina is home to the most HBCUs in the nation.

The Minority Entrepreneurship Grant Program Act is endorsed by the UNC System, the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Small Business Roundtable.