Hampton University was recently awarded $17.7 million as a recipient of The Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant Program.

In collaboration with the Virginia Board of Workforce Development and Old Dominion University, the historically Black institution will use the funding to establish the Virginia Workforce Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. It will serve as an incubator for aspiring entrepreneurs with hopes of it growing the city’s economy.

“Hampton’s proposal is especially promising,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who visited the campus last week. “This program is for all students of all ages, especially adult learners seeking new knowledge and skills to grow their own businesses. I’m excited to see how this Center will expand Hampton’s influential role in this community and throughout Virginia.”

According to the press release, the grant was designed to provide opportunities for skill-building, provide resources to expand existing businesses, and encourage business development and innovation. Funding for the grant was allocated through the Education Stabilization Fund of the CARES Act.

“I appreciate Secretary DeVos’ commitment to quality education, her commitment to entrepreneurship, and her commitment to workforce development,” said Hampton University President William R. Harvey. “Our founder, General Armstrong, said that his institution required two things. One, a first-rate academic program. Today, that would be called workforce development. Two, he said, the development of character. He said that of the two, the development of character was the more important. I want everybody to know, that as the 12th president of Hampton University, I feel the exact same way.”