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Commerce Deputy Secretary Don Graves Travels to Chicago and Promotes New Grant Competition Focused on Supporting Minority and Women Businesses and Entrepreneurs

On Friday, January 13, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves traveled to Chicago to highlight the recently announced Minority Business Development Agency’s Capital Readiness Program, a $93.5 million grant competition dedicated to helping minority, women, and other underserved entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses.

“Entrepreneurship is a pathway to the American Dream,” said Deputy Secretary Graves during his remarks. “It creates good jobs, sparks innovation, encourages greater investment in communities, and helps build generational wealth.”

The Biden Administration has consistently placed a focus on supporting minority and women businesses and entrepreneurs across the country, especially those who have traditionally been left behind. The Capital Readiness Program, the largest of its kind in the history of the Commerce Department, will create a national network of incubators and accelerators across the country who have the expertise to assist and train minority and other underserved entrepreneurs. 

“With the Capital Readiness Program, we’re going to build on MBDA’s track record of success and give more minority business enterprises and underserved entrepreneurs the tools they need to thrive,” said Graves.

The Program aims to close the entrepreneurship gap by (1) providing the tools and skillsets necessary for minority, women, and other underserved entrepreneurs to start or scale their businesses, (2) supporting access to capital opportunities, including referrals and assistance in applying to government programs or pitching to private investors, and (3) establishing place-based networks and mentorship relationships.

Later in the day, Deputy Secretary Graves participated in a hands-on tour and roundtable discussion with local minority businesses at a Capital Readiness Program site and certified Women Business Enterprise, Silver Spoon Desserts

He later toured mHub, a leading innovation center dedicated to making diversity a core and abiding strength of the technology and manufacturing sector. Mhub has received past grants from Commerce's U.S. Economic Development Administration. 

MBDA is the only federal government agency dedicated solely to supporting minority-owned businesses, enterprises, and entrepreneurs and helping them overcome the barriers to economic success that many women and minority communities face. MBDA’s Capital Readiness Program is funded by the Department of Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). MBDA is uniquely situated to provide technical assistance and help these businesses be successful in applying to SSBCI capital programs and other government programs that support small businesses.

MBDA is currently seeking proposals. For more information on the program and to register for the pre-application webinars, visit www.MBDA.gov. The application deadline is February 28, 2023.