September 2, 2022
ST. LOUIS – BioSTL, Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis Small Business Empowerment Center (SBEC), and WEPOWER are members of the St. Louis team – in partnership with Greater St. Louis, Inc. – that has won a $25 million federal Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant. The federal grant will unlock the full potential of the region’s advanced manufacturing cluster, fueling its growth and contributing to the continued development of two of the metro’s next generation industries: bioscience and geospatial technology.
For their work to promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and small business growth, BioSTL, Harris-Stowe, SBEC, and WEPOWER will share $7.5 million. These resources will support new and expanded entrepreneur and small business development programs and promote access to capital for small businesses, especially those from historically excluded communities. The funding will also support proof of concept studies to bring new innovation to the market, especially innovation that links advanced manufacturing to the region’s existing bioscience strengths.
BioSTL, Harris-Stowe, SBEC, and WEPOWER – aligned with the broader, St. Louis regional Build Back Better coalition – will utilize this award to strengthen existing partnerships and enhance supports that allow entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to grow and succeed in St. Louis. This work will lead to a more inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship community and equitable access to new innovation.
“We are thankful to the Economic Development Administration for this award and proud to be an example of how St. Louis can win when we come together. As close collaborators, BioSTL, Harris-Stowe, SBEC, and WEPOWER will provide leadership toward more inclusive and equitable economic impact in the region,” said Ben Johnson, Senior Vice President at BioSTL. “This award will directly impact small businesses and enhance their economic impact – for families and for the region.” BioSTL will utilize the award to help bring new ideas and innovations to market through BioGenerator, bridging the region’s bioscience and advanced manufacturing strengths; expand support for Black, Latinx, Women, and Foreign-born entrepreneurs through its Inclusive Entrepreneurship Development Program; and increase equitable access to innovation through GlobalSTL.
"Harris-Stowe State University is honored to be a part of the St. Louis Coalition selected by the Economic Development Administration for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant," said Dr. Stacy Hollins, Dean of the Anheuser-Busch School of Business at Harris-Stowe State University. "We plan to use our funding to hire personnel who will develop training, services, and resources to foster the growth of emerging entrepreneurs and cultivate the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs from minority and under-resourced communities.”
“The Small Business Empowerment Center (SBEC) is excited to be a part of this fantastic opportunity,” said Kevin Wilson, Executive Director of SBEC. “The SBEC looks forward to being a vital part of the team and the collective vision we have to make a positive impact on the region!” SBEC will utilize dollars to hire dedicated small business assistance specialists in advanced manufacturing and biomanufacturing and will catalyze the Small Business Ecosystem Coalition, a coordinated and connected small business ecosystem that works better for small businesses, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-led businesses.
“WEPOWER is thrilled that the EDA has selected St Louis’ proposal. We know it is past time for the region to place equity at the center of our collective work to foster economic development through entrepreneurship and innovation, and we are ready to take on this work with a spirit of humility and radical collaboration alongside Harris-Stowe, BioSTL, and the Small Business Empowerment Center,” said Yoni Blumberg, Vice President of Community Wealth Building at WEPOWER. “WEPOWER will use this historic federal investment to provide Black and Latinx entrepreneurs with critical business development services and support getting the capital they need to grow, through tailored strategies aimed at accelerating living wage job creation and catalyzing worker and community ownership. By leveraging entrepreneurship to build community wealth and power, we can begin to close the disparities inflicted by the region’s long history of systemic racism and exacerbated by COVID-19.”
St. Louis’ proposal – coordinated by Greater St. Louis, Inc. and the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership – was one of only 21 selected to receive a grant, less than 4% of the original applicant pool. In addition to the $25 million federal grant, $16.3 million in local matching funds will go toward the effort, bringing the total investment in the metro to $41.3 million.
Advanced manufacturing, bioscience, and geospatial technology comprise the St. Louis Regional Tech Triangle, which will grow the regional economy through workforce development, community revitalization and locational equity, and innovation and entrepreneurship. Advanced manufacturing and the Tech Triangle align with the strategic recommendations of St. Louis’ Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and the STL 2030 Jobs Plan.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Greater St. Louis wins big federal grant to jump-start advanced manufacturing