May 17, 2021

Wyden Co-Sponsors Legislation to Expand, Make Permanent Minority Business Development Agency

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said today he is co-sponsoring legislation that would make permanent and expand the reach of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), placing MBDA regional offices in more communities as well as increasing the agency’s grant-making capacity and creating a Senate-confirmed post for Minority Business Development.

"Entrepreneurs of color have for generations faced significant barriers as they work to get their ideas and businesses off the ground," said Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "The Minority Business Development Agency has served as an essential tool in helping to break down these barriers and create equal opportunities for minority business owners. But there's still much work to do in the fight for economic justice. Making the agency permanent and expanding its reach is a must."

The Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2021 comes on the heels of the Biden Administration’s FY2022 budget proposal, which would increase funding to MBDA by more than 40 percent and appoint an Assistant Secretary of Commerce to manage the agency.

Minority business enterprises (MBEs) have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic. According to a National Bureau of Economic Research analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, from February to April 2020, an estimated 41 percent of Black-owned businesses, 32 percent of Latino-owned businesses, and 26 percent of Asian-owned businesses closed while 17 percent of white-owned businesses closed.

The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on minority-owned businesses reflect long-standing racial disparities in access to capital, mentorship, and technical training. MBEs are more likely to be denied loans than non-MBEs; on average, the annual gross receipts reported by MBEs is only one-third of the annual gross receipts reported by non-MBEs; and MBEs are half as likely as non-MBEs to have employees.

The Minority Business Resiliency Act would address the disparate impact COVID-19 has had on minority businesses and support them on the road ahead by:

  • making MBDA permanent in statute and formally establishing processes for its largest program, the Minority Business Development Center (MBDC) Program;
  • expanding the geographic reach of the MBDA by authorizing the creation of regional MBDA offices and rural business centers;
  • creating a new program to partner with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority serving institutions (MSIs) to build a pipeline of entrepreneurial talent;
  • designating a Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development to lead the MBDA;
  • increasing MBDA’s grant-making capacity to carry out economic development and research; and
  • increasing MBDA’s fiscal year 2021 budget to fund these initiatives.

“The Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs has helped minority-owned businesses and others for over 34 years with technical assistance, connecting with contracts, access to capital with our micro-loan program, and networking.  We welcome and look forward to continuing our Mission and applaud the Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2021 to help provide critical support and funding to the MBDA serving the underserved communities for the long-term future,” said Samuel Brooks, Founder and Chairman of the Board for the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME).  “This act furthers support our mission, by delivering added services to our members and others to assist small and medium sized minority and WESBSDV owned businesses remain successful and contributing members of our community; not only locally, but statewide, nationally, and internationally.  OAME is pleased to support and endorse the Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2021.”

"Senator Wyden’s efforts to continue addressing disparities while creating a more balanced economy that expands opportunity for all through the Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2021 are appreciated," said Kenechi Onyeagusi, Executive Director, Professional Building Development Group in Portland. "The resources contained in the bill will assist traditionally underserved minority business owners as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19, while helping to provide the assistance that will enable them to grow and scale their businesses for the long-term more effectively. This is an important, focused step towards removing the barriers and addressing the historical inequities that MBE firms have faced in the construction industry which have had negative economic and social consequences in our community.”

In addition to Wyden, other sponsors of the bill are U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.), U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), as well as U.S. Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.)

The bill also is endorsed by the National Urban League, U.S. Black Chambers (USBC), Small Business Majority, Association Enterprise for Opportunity (AEO), National Asian Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE), the Page 30 Coalition, and Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC).

“The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) proudly supports the Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2021,” said USBC President & CEO Ron Busby. “This significant piece of legislation would provide long-term, intentional support to the sole-agency responsible for assisting the development of minority-owned enterprises, the Minority Business Development Agency at the Department of Commerce. As Black Business owners begin to navigate a post-pandemic economy, we will require deliberate and wide-reaching legislative solutions that will assist with the creation and growth of economic opportunities in our communities. On behalf of the nation’s 2.6 million Black businesses, USBC endorses this essential legislation, as it provides opportune support to the most vulnerable businesses, Black-owned businesses.”

“The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) applauds lawmakers on the introduction of the Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2021. This bill ensures that Main Street America’s smallest and overlooked businesses, minority-owned businesses, receive support by the way of the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA),” said AEO President & CEO Connie Evans. “As the leading champion for microbusinesses, this legislation provides needed resources to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, expands technical assistance support, and ensures that our nation’s smallest minority-owned firms have the assistance to expand in the coming years, among others. As we work to deliver capital and services to assist underserved entrepreneurs in starting, stabilizing and expanding their businesses, we are pleased to endorse the Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2021.”

National ACE President & CEO Chiling Tong said, “MBDA has helped countless minority owned businesses operate safely during the pandemic, find resources to stay open, and even grow in capacity. Almost 11 million minority-owned businesses rely on MBDA to connect them to needed contracts, capital, and markets. Codifying MBDA in the Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2021 will ensure that our small and medium sized minority-owned businesses remain resilient and continue to play an integral role in rebuilding Main Street in preparation for a post-Covid economy.”

“The Page 30 Coalition welcomes the introduction of the Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2021 as it aims to provide critical investment to underserved communities for years to come,” said Jamon Phenix, Coalition Manager, Page 30 Coalition. “For over fifty years, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the Department of Commerce has supported minority-owned enterprises throughout our nation. The Page 30 Coalition proudly supports the effort to codify and modernize MBDA. Ensuring minority business owners have the support they need from the US government to grow and scale their businesses, aligns with our mission of serving those entrepreneurs prioritized by the CARES Act.”

Click here to download a section-by-section summary of the bill.