During the tour, they emphasized the catastrophic impact that defaulting on our nation’s debt would have on small businesses, and in particular, on underserved small businesses.

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Congressman Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman joined the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore for a walking tour of Black-owned small businesses. The event included visits to local shops supported by the Downtown BOOST (Black-Owned and Operated Storefront Tenancy) Program, a program to propel Baltimore’s Black-owned retail businesses. Pictures from the tour and roundtable can be found HERE and video is available upon request.

During the event, Chair Ben Cardin emphasized the catastrophic impact that defaulting on our nation’s debt would have on small businesses, particularly on underserved small businesses who already face significant barriers to access capital. Faced with the financial consequences of a default, like skyrocketing interest rates and unaffordable capital, many underserved small businesses will collapse.

“NKVSKIN, Black Genius Art Show, and Media Rhythm Institute showed us why Black-owned small businesses continue to push Baltimore forward. Our tour helped us understand the barriers slowing their growth, including how catastrophic a debt default will be on underserved small businesses,” said Chair Ben Cardin. “The United States keeps its promises and pays its bills. That’s what a great country does. We are talking about paying for spending previously approved by Congress – not new spending. We have never defaulted on our obligations before, and we should not start now.”

“Small businesses like those we toured create local jobs, spur economic growth, and propel our neighborhoods forward. A Republican default on America would devastate them, at a time when historically underserved businesses are still recovering from the pandemic and facing challenges with access to capital,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen. “Republicans need to take default off the table and honor our financial obligations so we can avoid economic catastrophe and continue supporting our small business economy.”

“We must remain committed to ensuring our nation’s hardworking entrepreneurs have the resources they need to continue driving the American economy forward. I am proud to support the BOOST Program with my time and through American Rescue Plan Act funding because the program reflects the values of Baltimore’s residents,” said Congressman Kweisi Mfume, member of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Small Business and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations.

“Since the start of the Biden administration, nearly 12 million entrepreneurs went from dreaming to doing and applied to start new small business. This small business boom is helping to drive America's record-breaking economic recovery. Yet, rather than celebrating this historic entrepreneurial surge that will help drive Americas global competitiveness into the future, MAGA Republicans are threatening to cut it short with a deliberate default on our national debt,” said Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “The economic fallout resulting from a default or the proposed budget cuts would be catastrophic to small businesses across Main Street America like those we met in Baltimore from the BOOST program.”

“Having Administrator Guzman, Senators Cardin and Van Hollen, and Rep. Mfume tour Boost businesses and discuss the importance of supporting small, minority-owned businesses was incredibly important to the community. Small businesses in Downtown are eagerly awaiting the return of office workers, and balancing inflation, staffing shortages, and access to capital, so having Team Maryland and the Small Business Administration at the table encourages their entrepreneurial endeavors,” said Shelonda Stokes, President, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.

The Downtown BOOST (Black-Owned and Operated Storefront Tenancy) Program is aimed at propelling Baltimore’s most unique and purpose-driven Black-owned retail businesses. It supports the long-term success of five, creative Baltimore-based entrepreneurs in prime storefronts in Downtown Baltimore, while simultaneously developing signature amenities for downtown Baltimore residents, employees, and visitors alike. Businesses in the first cohort of the BOOST Program have opened, while businesses in the second cohort are still in training, for a total of 10 businesses receiving over $250,000 in total to date.

In addition to BOOST, Black small businesses in Baltimore are also supported by a number of other community and government organizations. For example, the city of Baltimore has created the Office of Minority and Women Business Development, which is responsible for promoting and supporting minority-owned businesses. In August 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) awarded $2,000,000 to the Mayor’s Office of Small, Minority and Women Business. The office was later combined with the Mayor's Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development.

In November of 2021, as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, President Biden signed into law Chair Cardin’s legislation to establish MBDA as a permanent program. The legislation authorized $110 million per year for the agency through Fiscal Year 2025. It also elevates the office by creating an Under Secretary position to lead the agency. The legislation expands the geographic reach of the MBDA by authorizing the creation of regional MBDA offices and rural business centers and creating the Parren J. Mitchell Entrepreneurship Education Grants Program to support minority entrepreneurs at HBCUs and MSIs.