M. Gill and Associates, Inc. Awarded $3 Million to Operate MBDA CRP In USVI

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands –  The Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) hosted a news conference on Thursday, August 10, 2023, where the Undersecretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development Donald “Don” R. Cravins Jr. announced M. Gill and Associates, Inc., as the awardee for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).  Capital Readiness Program (CRP) for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This news conference was held at the VIEDA office in Nisky Center on St. Thomas, USVI, and via video conference from the VIEDA office on St. Croix in Frederiksted. It was also live streamed on VIEDA’s Facebook page.

M Gill awardee MBDA in USVI
(Left to Right): Marie R. Gill, Operator of M. Gill and Associates, Inc.; Kevin Rodrquez, VIEDA Board Chairman & Deputy Chief of Staff for the Office of USVI Governor Albert Bryan, Jr.; Stacey E. Plaskett, Esq., Delegate to Congress for the USVI; Donald “Don” R. Cravins, Jr., first Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development; Joann J. Hill, Chief, Office of Business Development; and Wayne L. Biggs, Jr., VIEDA Chief Executive Officer gather to celebrate the announcement of M. Gill and Associates, Inc. as the awardee of the USVI Capital Readiness Program following a news conference held at the VIEDA office in Nisky Center on St. Thomas and via vidoeconference at the VIEDA office on St. Croix on Thursday, August 10, 2023.
-Photo by Semele A. C. George, Marketing and PR Specialist, VIEDA.

M. Gill and Associates, Inc., which is among 43 CRP awardees, will operate the MBDA CRP in the USVI after its official launch in the Territory in September 2023. The CRP will fund and build a geographically dispersed network of MBDA Capital Readiness technical assistance providers that can help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs build the skills to launch or scale existing businesses, access State Small Business Capital Initiative (SSBCI) capital, participate in other governmental programs that support small businesses, and secure other forms of capital.  M. Gill and Associates, Inc., was awarded $3 million to launch and operate the CRP in the USVI, Puerto Rico, and Florida.

“In developing the CRP, we knew it was critical to find organizations like M. Gill and Associates, Inc., because they understand the unique needs and challenges of entrepreneurs of color. We must meet people where they are,” said Undersecretary Donald R. Cravins, Jr. “I’d like to thank the VIEDA for hosting me and my team this week. And thanks to the leadership of President Biden and Vice-President Harris, to our members of Congress like Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett and others, help is here through the Capital Readiness [Technical Assistance] Program and it is here to stay,” added Undersecretary Cravins, Jr.

Mr. Cravins, Jr. is the first appointee in this position and leads the MBDA which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Last week, the Biden Administration launched the CRP in Washington, DC.  The U.S. Virgin Islands was the first visit in Under Secretary Cravins Jr.’s CRP roll-out tour.

During Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development Cravins, Jr.’s visit to St. Thomas August 7-10, 2023, the VIEDA hosted a reception and two roundtables for local businesses owners from across St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix representing various industries such as information technology, transportation, beauty & spa, real estate, food/beverage, and others. These activities provided the business community with the opportunity to discuss their unique challenges and learn how programs administered by the Undersecretary and MBDA can supplement assistance offered through VIEDA to alleviate these challenges. The visit culminated with the announcement of the CRP recipient at the news conference on August 10, 2023 who will assist local entrepreneurs. Undersecretary Cravins, Jr., also met with the Honorable Albert Bryan Jr., Governor of the USVI, during his visit to the USVI.

The MBDA CRP is funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which was reauthorized under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. MBDA received $125 million the Treasury’s SSBCI technical assistance funding to support the Capital Readiness Program.

“For this program, the MBDA will hire a consultant and three new [individuals for this program], one of which will be hired from, and will remain in, the USVI to work on behalf of the MBDA to provide the technical assistance that is needed,” said Marie R. Gill of M. Gill and Associates, Inc.

Stacey E. Plaskett, Delegate to Congress for the USVI, also expressed high praise for the CRP and the need for it in the Territory, especially for young people who return home to the USVI from the mainland.

“We have many young Virgin Islanders who have returned to the USVI from school who have ideas and want to be creators.  And the VIEDA and the support of the MBDA can provide them an anchor that will help them to grow,” said Stacey E. Plaskett, Esq., Delegate to Congress for the USVI.

VIEDA CEO Wayne L. Biggs, Jr. joined Congresswoman Plaskett in her sentiments about the need for this program.

“This year, the USVI was awarded about $18.1 million in the first tranche for funds from SSBCI. The CRP is one more tool in our economic development toolbox here in the USVI for our entrepreneurs to help them expand, get access to capital and contracts and bonding opportunities. Other individuals can also start a business with this program,” said Mr. Biggs.

The Minority Business Development Agency is the only federal government agency dedicated solely to supporting the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises. The Capital Readiness Program awardees will join MBDA’s National Network of 88 business centers and other projects that provide technical assistance and business support services to minority business enterprises.

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