July 29, 2022

Contact: Charles Ross
      President and CEO
      International Business Innovation Association
      [email protected]   

Global Organization Recognizes Diversity and Inclusion Excellence in Entrepreneurship Support

Atlanta, Georgia – Each year, the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) honors entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) and their clients that exemplify the best of the entrepreneurial industry. 

Last month, InBIA launched an inaugural Julius Morgan Diversity and Inclusion Award celebrating ESOs with meaningful initiatives focused on increasing racial diversity and advancing inclusion.

Julius Morgan was a co-founder of the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) and served as the first African American Director of its Board of Directors (1990-1996). NBIA became the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) in 2015 to reflect the association’s long-standing service of organizations outside the United States and its expanded focus to all organizations that support entrepreneurs.

Morgan championed a new brand of business incubators – those bringing economic development to urban entrepreneurship ecosystems – and he is credited with bringing the Milwaukee Enterprise Center (MEC) into fruition. Thalia Mendez, who was an MEC employee during Morgan’s tenure there, said  “[When I was hired], I was brand new to the incubation industry and Julius took me under his wing. Under his guidance, not only did I run a great program but I also became president of our state organization and was elected to serve two terms on the InBIA Board.”

ESOs and their outstanding companies have made important industry contributions through their products, services, programs, and examples in the area of diversity and inclusion.

The first recipient of the Julius Morgan Diversity and Inclusion award is Bowie Business Innovation Center (BIC). Located halfway between Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., this ten-year-old center was selected for the award because of its 8(a) Accelerator Program, which targets companies that have been certified by a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) program with the same name. The SBA 8(a) program is designed to augment training and technical assistance for socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs, strengthening their ability to compete effectively in the American economy. Companies with founders from these communities leave the 8(a) Accelerator with the knowledge and skills they need to secure federal contracts. . 

Melissa Peterson, CEO of Blue Sky Innovative Solutions, participated in Bowie BIC’s first 8(a) Accelerator program in 2019. Her company delivers IT solutions, advanced cybersecurity services, and end-to-end business solutions support to enhance enterprise security and improve enterprise performance for federal clients.

When her company joined Bowie BIC’s first 8(a) cohort, Peterson had one 8(a) sole source contract valued at just over $3M. By the end of that year, she had won a total of six awards with a total value of $17 million. By the following year she had won a seventh prime contract. 

“Our revenues have almost tripled,” said Peterson. “Our biggest challenges now are scaling our operations and stabilizing our revenues so that we can begin hunting bigger game in 2022.”

Peterson described Bowie BIC’s 8(a) Accelerator program as “hugely beneficial” for her company. “I definitely credit the class with teaching us to better communicate our value proposition, providing us with exposure and access to new agencies, and helping us to start to focus on the opportunities with the highest probability of success.”

The Bowie BIC 8(a) Accelerator Program is featured as a case study in InBIA’s “Playbook for Improving Diversity and Inclusion in Entrepreneurship Centers” because of the success it has had in helping companies grow by facilitating connections to federal funding and contracts. The program is an excellent example of how ESOs can help entrepreneurs of color grow their companies and achieve sustainability by providing specialized training and connections. The playbook and the award are both parts of InBIA’s focus on providing ESOs with the information, resources and models they need to create more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems. 


ABOUT the International Business Innovation Association

InBIA is a global nonprofit with over 1,200 members that lead entrepreneurship centers
in over 30 countries. For over 35 years, InBIA has provided industry best practices through education while enabling collaboration, mentorship, peer-based learning and the sharing of innovative ideas for entrepreneurs across the globe. InBIA is the premier organization for business incubators, accelerators, coworking spaces, and other entrepreneurship centers.