Celebrating Black History Month 2023: Meet the HBCUs of the EDA University Center Program!
In celebration of Black History Month, this month’s feature looks at Historically Black Colleges and Universities that are also current EDA University Center Program awardees. Read below to learn more about each school and their work as a university center.
Claflin University, South Carolina
The Claflin University EDA University Center is a collaboration between the Claflin University Entrepreneurship and Innovative Strategies Program (CUEIS) and Center for Economic Development and Regional Studies. The University Center will serve a seven-county region near Claflin University (Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton, Jasper, and Orangeburg counties) providing technical assistance, entrepreneurial and small business support to businesses, government, entrepreneurs (students, faculty and within communities). The University Center will focus on rural and underserved minority populations that are not connected to economic and business development resources and regional commercialization efforts.
Fayetteville State University, North Carolina
The EDA University Center at Fayetteville State University (FSU) will leverage University expertise to enable accelerated growth in output and jobs. Such support empowers businesses to navigate changing market conditions, pursue new opportunities, and improve resiliency. To help underserved segments of distressed communities access opportunities, there will be a particular focus on collaborating with community partners to identify and connect contractors with historic levels of construction activity to be taking place over the next 3-5 years at FSU and throughout Cumberland County (over $150 million at FSU alone). The University Center will be the driving force in operations at the Fayetteville Cumberland Regional Entrepreneur and Business HUB—a stand-alone, accessible space, housing entrepreneurial support activities currently located separately on campus and in Fayetteville. The primary focus will be on promoting small business growth in a six-county region where the level of economic prosperity has been significantly lower than state and national averages. Further, the University Center will be leveraging UNC Chapel Hill resources and other partners to drive improved capacity of under-represented contractors throughout economically challenged eastern North Caroline to secure and implement major construction contracts at FSU and Cumberland County. The Center will also conduct applied research to build the ecosystem.
Florida A&M University, Florida
The FAMU Innovation Center focuses on entrepreneurship development, commercialization programs, and engagement at a leading research HBCU. The project approach is to leverage FAMU expertise and assets to create capacity, connections, and catalysts around identified regional assets and high value opportunities, and address barriers to business growth by strengthening FAMU and Tallahassee-based entrepreneurship and technology programs while extending them into the region. The five-year scope of work and project plan will enable the FAMU Innovation Center to: operate and expand entrepreneurship programs and services to engage faculty and students in commercialization of research and formation of minority and women-owned businesses; increase student engagement in entrepreneurial skill development and startup formation; expand program and partnership development to strengthen the innovation ecosystem, including engaging with other federal programs; support rural community economic and workforce development programs; and grow industry engagement around research and technology development and talent pipelines.
Meharry Medical College, Tennessee
Our Minority Business Incubator, ReslienSeed, aims to amplify voices from underserved communities, rapidly address workforce diversity, economic inequity, and recovery, and disrupt longstanding health and economic disparities. Our team and communities’ first-hand experience with social determinants of health (SDoH) known to disproportionately burden racial/ethnic minorities fuels our passion to optimize equity and push forward scalable, sustainable, and high impact behavioral health solutions. By partnering with our entrepreneurs, we provide an avenue to enhance and reward resilience, as well as serving as a bridge for unique perspectives, ideas, and innovations designed by and for our communities. We leverage diverse networks within research, innovation, and training to accelerate opportunities and sustainability via accessibility to resources and funding. Our evidence-based approach is personalized for each entrepreneur team and innovation, providing a launching pad for entrepreneurial success while advancing value-based care solutions. Based on feedback from our initial cohort about primary barriers, we facilitated financial training programs, connected entrepreneurs with industry experts, established internship opportunities with venture capital firms, and have advised and partnered on funding streams (e.g., SBIR/STTR grants). We are excited to contribute to the next generation of entrepreneurs accelerating equity through innovations created by and for their communities.
Morgan State University, Maryland
Morgan State University, together with HBCU team members Bowie State University and Coppin State University, as well the University of Maryland – College Park (UMD), University of Baltimore, cash match partners the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), and match partner the University System of Maryland (USM) propose the Maryland Innovation Extension University Center (Extension-UC). Extension-UC builds on Morgan’s and UMD’s foundational University Center work (2011-present) to translate research and planning into action to transform regional capacity and training of innovative startups. Extension-UC will work with partner organizations via technical assistance programs to broadly disseminate institutional resources such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps, Startup Fundamentals workshops, and Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) programs through state and county partners with a specific emphasis on building capacity in urban hubs and rural regions. This will provide the broader ecosystem with comprehensive tools, training, and mentorship to support technology startups throughout Maryland, resulting in a more resilient and vibrant entrepreneurial economy. Extension-UC will cultivate a more innovative culture across the state engaging socially and economically underserved communities to solve societal problems with impactful startup ventures.
Southern University and A&M College, Louisiana
The major goal of Southern University and A&M College EDA University Center is to expand and revitalize entrepreneurial and economic development in targeted regions of Louisiana (northeast, central and southeast Louisiana including main urban centers) by providing tangible programs (technical assistance and training on entrepreneurship and workforce development; conducting, sharing and disseminating applied research; and advancing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem by collaborating with scholars and community leaders) that enhance existing businesses and help create new venture opportunities in the economies of the target region. Southern University and A&M College’s EDA UC has a special focus on: (1) Job creation and workforce development; (2) advancing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem; and (3) promoting international trade. The Center’s programs align with two EDA’s investment priorities: (1) Global competitiveness and (2) underserved communities. In addition, the Center’s activities will contribute to EDA’s national strategic priorities by increasing access to capital for small, medium-sized and ethnically diverse enterprises.