March 06, 2023

Wyden, Colleagues Press Feds to Increase Help for Underserved Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Senators’ request would “spark a new generation of diverse entrepreneurs and small businesses”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today announced that he and six colleagues are urging top federal officials to bolster opportunities for underserved and underrepresented small businesses and entrepreneurs in Oregon and nationwide without requiring any new spending.

In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Wyden and the senators asked for the transfer of $200 million from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) technical assistance fund to the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) -- the only federal agency solely focused on minority-owned enterprises and specializing in culturally competent technical assistance.

“Transferring funding to MBDA will help amplify SSBCI capital previously approved by Congress in the American Rescue Plan, and spark a new generation of diverse entrepreneurs and small businesses nationwide,” the senators wrote.

The senators noted in their letter that $200 million – or 40 percent -- of the $500 million allocated to the SSBCI technical assistance fund remains unused, and that transferring those funds to the Minority Business Development Agency would extend the reach of the agency’s Capital Readiness Program (CRP).

The senators wrote Yellen that demand for CRP funding has proven “overwhelming” with nearly 3,000 organizations applying for these resources that provide access to education on debt financing, grant writing, investor relations, mentoring, training and more.

“Although CRP received outsized national interest, with only $100 million in funding MBDA will be forced to reject thousands of qualified applicants and leave many communities and states without representation,” the senators wrote. “It is clear to us that $100 million in funding is not nearly enough to close the gap in access to capital, capacity building and network access for underserved entrepreneurs and small businesses. 

“With an additional $200 million in repurposed funds from Treasury, MBDA would be able to provide funding to those states that did not receive funding in the first phase, extend its reach to more rural communities, and strengthen its existing network of incubators and accelerators,” they added. “Given the economic challenges of minority and underserved enterprises, we believe it is imperative that Treasury productively re-deploy the remaining $200 million of SSBCI technical assistance funding to MBDA for its Capital Readiness Program.” 

Other signers of the letter led by Wyden, Chair of the Finance Committee, are U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chair of the Banking Committee;  Ben Cardin (D-MD), chair of the Small Business Committee;  Ben Ray Luján (D-NM); Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Raphael Warnock (D-GA); and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

A copy of the letter is here.