(Washington, D.C.)—U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today convened a hearing to examine the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Entrepreneurial Development, which manages the Small Business Development Centers Program, the Women’s Business Centers Program, the Community Navigator Pilot Program, and SCORE. The hearing comes amid a historic boom in new business formation, with American entrepreneurs registering 5.4 million new business applications in 2021—the highest total on record.
“Thanks to the additional capacity, expertise, and connectivity the SBA has developed during the pandemic, the agency has been able to support the record-breaking surge of entrepreneurship that has occurred during the pandemic,” Cardin said during his opening statement.
Click here to watch an MP4 of Cardin’s opening statement.
Congress has invested more than $400 million in SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, which included $265 million for the programs to increase their capacity and expertise to help small businesses understand, prepare for, and mitigate the effects of the pandemic on supply chains, revenue, and overall business operations. In March 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, which created the Community Navigator Pilot Program; the bill provided $175 million to the program to make grants to organizations nationwide using a hub-and-spoke model, creating a holistic network of entrepreneurial development resources to deliver services to underserved small businesses.
Cardin urged SBA Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development Mark Madrid to strengthen SBA’s relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), citing Maryland as an example.“HBCUs are a vital part of Maryland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with Bowie State University hosting an innovation center and Morgan State University hosting one of the Women’s Business Centers that opened during the pandemic,” Cardin said. “Our state has successfully leveraged these institutions’ relationships with minority communities to get these critical services to the entrepreneurs who would benefit from them the most.”