Project supported by New York's East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund & Buffalo Billion II
Empire State Development on Thursday announced the completion of interior infrastructure improvements at the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center, located at 334 E. Utica, on the Buffalo East Side. The renovations, supported by funding from the state's East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund, improve The Exchange’s ability to serve small businesses.
“The East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund predates COVID-19, but the impact of its strategic investments is especially crucial as we build back from the pandemic,” ESD Acting Commissioner and President/CEO-Designate Eric Gertler said. "Improvements at The Exchange will give small businesses on Buffalo’s East Side the one-stop guidance they need to join in and support the neighborhood’s economic resurgence.”
The Exchange is a comprehensive, one-stop small business technical resource center developed to support entrepreneurship and innovation for minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE), service-disabled veteran-owned businesses (SDVOB), and small businesses in the City of Buffalo and WNY region. It is named for Beverly A. Gray, who was a dedicated community advocate, city council member and an entrepreneur who envisioned Jefferson Avenue and the Buffalo East Side as a vibrant hub for innovation and economic growth. It focuses on creating inclusive economic growth by connecting MWBEs, SDVOBs and small businesses with an array of services and opportunities, and igniting an economic revitalization of neighborhood businesses for Buffalo residents.
The Exchange received nearly $31,600 from ESD as part of the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund to make needed improvements to the building. This included upgrading IT and security systems, interior painting and plumbing, and the installation of a new boiler and HVAC systems.
Shatorah Donovan, chair of the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center Inc., said, "The Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center is a vital resource for our community. The building provides a space for entrepreneurs and community members to gather and learn more about how to build a business and access the wealth of resources available. Thank you to Gov. Cuomo and Empire State Development for these funds that provided vital updates to the building, allowing us to continue to be an anchor in the neighborhood."
In March 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the $50 million East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund, an initiative to spark revitalization of the Buffalo East Side through investments in the four main north-south commercial corridors: Michigan, Jefferson, Fillmore and Bailey avenues. Funding is helping revive traditional main streets and commercial corridors through the preservation of historic buildings, funding of capital improvements in neighborhood assets, expansion of commercial opportunities, improvements to infrastructure, as well as the promotion of mixed-use private investment in these neighborhoods. The funding is designed to empower community residents to improve their businesses and neighborhoods, making it a ground-up revitalization effort led by and directly benefiting the community.
Mandela Market was one of the nine projects listed as part of a total $7.4 million allocation in direct project assistance, a list compiled by ESD in conjunction with the City of Buffalo through public stakeholder meetings and listening sessions with business owners and neighborhood residents. Read more about Buffalo's East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund here. The fund complements previous investments on the east side, including $10 million for the Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative and $5 million for the Buffalo Central Terminal, for a total of $65 million in investments since 2017.
New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, “These improvements at the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center will only further help to fuel opportunity as we build back from the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will underscore the center's reputation as a critical resource for small businesses and will support Western New York's continued economic recovery."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said, “The devastation caused by COVID-19 has shown us how critical the success of small businesses is to households and local economies. Behind successful businesses are supportive organizations such as the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center. I'd like to thank Empire State Development for helping to make the Exchange Center more efficient in helping business clients.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Having the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center fully finished and functional is just what the small business community in Buffalo needs, providing the supports and structure necessary for local small businessmen and women to succeed. This will be more important than ever as we continue to fight the pandemic and help our small businesses grow in Erie County.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "COVID-19 has impacted our small business community severely. The Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center is an essential resource for minority, women, and veteran-owned small business during these difficult times. I would like to thank Gov. Cuomo and Empire State Development for providing funds for necessary infrastructure improvements and for stimulating economic growth through the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund and Buffalo Billion II initiative."