After decades, the Minority Business Development Agency could finally become permanent
The US Senate on Thursday approved an amendment to make the Minority Development Business Agency (MBDA) permanent, almost culminating in a decades-long effort to solidify the agency’s position.
A bipartisan cohort of senators, including small business and entrepreneurship committee chairman Ben Cardin (D-Md.) hope will pass the room in the next few days.
MBDA helps minority entrepreneurs access capital, government contracts and markets through its business centers across the country. The amendment would pay the agency $ 110 million per year until fiscal 2025, more than double its level for fiscal 2021. (Congress could set a new level of funding after that.) The measure would also expand MBDA’s footprint, creating regional offices and rural business centers that would be run by historically black colleges and universities and institutions serving minorities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the unique burdens facing minority entrepreneurs, so I am proud that the Senate has decided to provide MBDA with the stability, leadership and resources it needs to invest in minority businesses, ”Cardin said in a statement Thursday.
President Richard Nixon created the MBDA by executive order in 1969. Members of Congress introduced bills to codify the agency dating back to 1980, according to MBDA. None were passed, forcing Congress to allocate funds for each fiscal year in order to keep it going.
Ron Busby, Sr., president and CEO of Washington, DC-based nonprofit US Black Chambers Inc., said that since his organization’s inception, it has advocated for ongoing funding of MBDA: “Over the past 12 years we’ve had this conversation and I’ve been very, very diligent.”
Now, the time may finally be here. Busby says he is “delighted” that Republicans and Democrats have come together to support minority-owned businesses, which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic – and which had already faced a myriad of structural hurdles.