Senators Cardin and Van Hollen present $3 million check to Bowie BIC Executive Director Lisa Smith and BSU President Aminta Breaux (Photo/BSU)


Contact: Lisa S. Smith, Executive Director
Phone: 301-524-5654

(Bowie, MD-May 9, 2022) U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin and U.S. Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee Chair Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) today announced $3 million in congressionally directed spending for the new Bowie Business Innovation Center (Bowie BIC) Center of Excellence for 8(a) Government Contracting, located at Bowie State University. The Senators also announced $1 million in federal funding to develop a Laboratory for Hydroponics and Aquaponics Research at Bowie State University. This totals $4 million in congressionally directed spending to support innovation programs located at Bowie State University, the oldest Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in Maryland.

“The Bowie Business Innovation Center is a pioneering initiative providing underserved small businesses with the tools they need to succeed and better position them to obtain government contracts. That’s why I was proud to join Senator Cardin in supporting a $3 million federal investment for the BIC within the federal funding bill this year,” said Senator Van Hollen.

In addition to their announcement, the senators joined university President Dr. Aminta H. Breaux, Bowie BIC Executive Director Lisa S. Smith, graduates of Bowie BIC business accelerator programs, and regional small businesses for a listening session about the challenges facing Prince George’s County entrepreneurs and small businesses. The senators also heard from graduates of Bowie BIC’s 8(a) Accelerator Program, who shared their experiences navigating the federal contracting process and recommended improvements.

“The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that our nation’s HBCUs are perfectly situated to help connect minorities, women, and other underserved entrepreneurs to the services and resources they need to succeed,” Senator Cardin said.

“The $3 million in congressionally directed funding will increase the Bowie Business Innovation Center’s capacity to help underserved entrepreneurs more than ten-fold. The Bowie BIC inspired my UPLIFT Act, which would create a national network of accelerators and incubators on HBCU, MSI, and community college campuses. I remain hopeful that we will pass this legislation to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit that is surging through our communities.”

The new $3 million direct federal funding award to establish the Bowie BIC Center of Excellence for 8(a) Government Contracting at Bowie State University is a historic development,” said Lisa S. Smith, Executive Director of the Bowie BIC, a non-profit business accelerator located at Bowie State University. “We are truly grateful to Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen for their work to secure this funding. With this funding, our award-winning 8(a) Accelerator Program can be expanded through this new Center of Excellence—the first in America—and become a resource for HBCU’s by helping socially and economically disadvantaged companies participate fully in the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) Business Development Program and win government contracts that build wealth for the contractors, and bring jobs to the communities they serve.”

“The $3 million received in federal funding will help to create the Bowie BIC Center of Excellence pilot program that will deliver targeted resources to strengthen HBCUs,” said Aminta Breaux, President of Bowie State University. “The program will also expand the existing work of the only 8(a) Accelerator Program in the country. We are grateful to Senator Cardin for helping us to secure the necessary funds to ensure continued success. This additional support will allow for the expansion and replication of the Bowie BIC 8(a) Accelerator Program mode through partnerships with other HBCUs.”

The award-winning Bowie Business Innovation Center 8(a) Accelerator program—the first in America—is a fast track for helping socially and economically disadvantaged government contractors in the SBA 8(a) Business Development program win federal government contracts. Bowie BIC’s 8(a) Accelerator program is delivered in collaboration with SBA and focuses on the development of a targeted federal capture strategy, mentoring and networking.

The program served as a model for Cardin’s UPLIFT Act, which would create an Innovation Centers Program within the Small Business Administration (SBA) to award competitive cooperative agreements worth as much as $400,000 annually to HBCUs, minority serving institutions (MSIs), and community colleges to establish and expand incubators and accelerators.

About Bowie Business Innovation Center

Bowie BIC is an award-winning hub for business acceleration located at the Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community on the campus of Bowie State University, the oldest historically Black college or university (HBCU). In Maryland.

Technology companies, women-owned businesses and government contractors in Prince George’s County, MD access key business scale-up resources at Bowie BIC, such as customized business support, professional counseling, mentoring and competitively priced office and collaborative workspace. Bowie BIC’s 8(a) Accelerator program is one of its signature business support initiatives. A Maryland nonprofit organization, Bowie BIC was the first business accelerator to locate on the campus of an HBCU in Maryland.

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