WASHINGTON – Today Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, made the following statement in honor of 2007 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week:

“From barrier breaking pioneers like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Justice Thurgood Marshall to media moguls like Oprah Winfrey, Historically Black Colleges and Universities have produced some of our nation’s brightest minds and most courageous leaders,” said Kerry. “As we celebrate the milestones and accomplishments of HBCUs this week, we hope it also inspires the next generation to make their mark. We can do more to invest in their dreams and encourage their business aspirations by passing legislation which will foster entrepreneurship for minority students and give them the tools to build their own piece of the American dream.”

Kerry authored the Entrepreneurial Development Act (S. 1671) which includes the creation of a Minority Entrepreneurship and Innovation Pilot Program designed to expand minority business ownership in highly skilled fields like engineering and computer science by creating an entrepreneurial curriculum at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Hispanic Serving Institutions and Tribal Colleges.

The legislation also creates the Minority Access to Information Distance Learning Pilot Program, which increases small businesses' ability to compete with larger firms for federal contracts, and establishes an Office of Minority Small Business Development at the Small Business Administration to give minority entrepreneurs an advocate in the agency. The Committee passed the bill in June.

Kerry has also sponsored the Max Cleland Minority Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Act (S. 1650) to invest in technology and education for students at HBCUs and other minority serving institutions. The Commerce Committee passed the bill in June.