On Tuesday, the U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations met for a hearing titled, “Lost Opportunities? SBA’s Engagement with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.” While he is only a freshman, U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., is the top Republican on the subcommittee. He offered the following opening statement on Tuesday:
As a third-generation small business owner, I am very familiar with the reciprocal relationship between entrepreneurs and their surrounding communities. Communities offer vital resources and support for entrepreneurs and small businesses, and in return, the businesses spark economic development and job growth.
Educational institutions are the bedrock of their local communities and a launch pad for leaders of the next generation. Our nation’s 101 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, serve students and communities across many cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
The Small Business Administration, or SBA, offers a variety of programs that provide resources to socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Business assistance services are provided through a nationwide network of field offices and non-profit resource providers which are often located on or near college campuses. Given their complementary missions, collaboration between the SBA and HBCUs has enormous potential. Recognizing this, last year, Congresswoman Alma Adams and former Congressman Dave Brat led a letter to the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, requesting a review of SBA’s outreach to HBCUs.
We are here today to receive the GAO report generated by last years’ request and discuss its findings with the author of the report and the SBA official responsible for entrepreneurial efforts with HBCUs. We also have the privilege to hear from HBCU officials that have partnered with SBA to provide entrepreneurial assistance. To quote the request letter, “we want to ensure that SBA is leveraging HBCUs in the most effective way.”
I would like to thank the witnesses on both panels for joining us today, I yield back.
After three terms in the Florida House, U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., was first elected to Congress last year.