Congressman Brian Higgins announced a $375,000 federal grant from the Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund for Launch NY, an Upstate New York nonprofit Venture Development Organization (VDO) that supports and invests in high-growth, high-impact companies across the 27 westernmost counties in New York. The mission of the CDFI program is to increase economic opportunity and community development for underserved populations in distressed communities. This is the fourth consecutive year the CDFI Fund has made an award to Launch NY.
“Small businesses created by Americans with a dream of serving their community are the lifeblood of our nation,” Higgins said. “While we deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited to look to the future with another round of federal funding to support the great work done by Launch NY in helping local Upstate New York businesses get on their feet.”
The grant will help sustain and expand the products and services capitalized by Launch NY’s Seed Fund, a nonprofit fund that started in 2016 and uses grants and donations to invest in startup companies with amounts ranging from $25,000 to $100,000. The Seed Fund supports entrepreneurs and matches them with Launch NY’s entrepreneurs-in-residence, providing mentoring to assist them throughout the process of starting and growing their businesses. Over the past four years, the fund has invested in 60 Upstate New York startups, which employ over 4,000 people.
“The CDFI award has been a critical part of us becoming the most active seed fund in New York state and one of the most active in the country that has attracted 17 times these dollars from co-investors following our lead to fuel high-growth startup companies right here in our own backyard at a time when we need it more than ever to revitalize our economy,” said Marnie LaVigne, Ph.D., president and CEO of Launch NY. “We are eternally grateful on behalf of our diverse entrepreneurs, comprising 45% women and/or minority-led businesses, who needed our federal representatives help in bring this funding back to Buffalo and the surrounding region.”
This federal funding follows a letter Higgins sent in April to the director of the CDFI Fund within the Department of Treasury advocating for federal funding to be awarded to Launch NY to assist with deploying venture capital to underserved entrepreneurs in Upstate New York.
The House-approved 2020 budget added $273.5 million for the CDFI Fund to support the efforts of initiatives like Launch NY. Launch NY has previously received awards including $637,000 in 2012, which helped to kick-off the Launch NY project, and subsequent EDA awards of $500,000 in 2015, $245,000 in 2016, $168,000 in 2017, and $300,000 in 2018, supported by Higgins.