|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Economic Adjustment Assistance||1||$300,000|
|Regional Innovation Strategies||1||$499,822|
When rioting spread through the streets of Baltimore in April 2015, the city’s small businesses were on the front line. The estimated $9 million of damage to more than 285 local businesses would measure only a fraction of the riot’s devastating economic impact.1
For many, the riots exposed the socio-economic roots of the unrest. Many people in underserved communities have big dreams and talent, but lack the opportunities to put them into action. Small businesses in underserved neighborhoods like West Baltimore often have difficulty getting start-up funding due to limited resources. Long term, Baltimore needed new capital investment and job-driven skills development and access to capital for small and ethnically diverse enterprises.
To address the need for significant employment opportunities for unemployed, underemployed or low-income residents in Baltimore, EDA awarded $300,000 to the National Urban League (NUL) to develop a new Entrepreneurship Center Program targeting the West Baltimore April 2015 unrest area. Specifically, EDA’s investment will help to support seminars for startups and small/micro-enterprises, including a series of weekly workshops that will provide in-depth education and training in business-related topics, including: how to draft a business plan, marketing and promotion, and business management. Additionally, the center will provide individualized consultation for entrepreneurs enrolled in the program and will provide access to workspace, infrastructure, and equipment to owners of Micro Business Enterprises to support their ventures. Perhaps most importantly, the Entrepreneurship Center will be mobile and accessible to the local community. There will be training and resources in the main office at the Greater Baltimore Urban League headquarters, but also at various mobile locations, schools, churches, community centers and other public locations within the neighborhood.
Baltimore will be the 13th city to host a NUL Entrepreneurship Center Program. According to the NUL, services from workshops and seminars to one-on-one counseling and mentoring will save or create 36 jobs in the first 12 months, and generate $1 million in contracting and bonding opportunities.
1. Wenger, Yvonne, “One estimate of business damage from Baltimore riot estimated at $9M, total cost unknown,” Baltimore Sun, May 13, 2015, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-damage-estimate-20150513-story.html (accessed April 21, 2016).