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Higgins: $2.152 million to support economic recovery & small business opportunity in WNY

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Thu, Jun 17th 2021 09:45 am

Funding awarded to Launch NY, Westminster Economic Development Initiative, Seneca Nation

Congressman Brian Higgins announced $2.152 million in new federal funding made available through the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. The Rapid Response Grants, funded with resources approved by Congress in the December 2020 appropriations bill, are targeted to reach distressed and underserved communities.

“The goal of these CDFI awards is to make assistance and resources available quickly and to provide these tools in an accessible way through the community,” Higgins said. “This funding will support job opportunities and economic growth in Western New York.”

CDFIs work to extend economic opportunity to communities, businesses and people by improving access to financial services. Three Western New York CDFIs are among 863 entities nationwide receiving awards.

Launch NY will receive $952,000 supporting efforts to mentor and provide capital for promising startup companies. This funding, combined with two other recent federal awards, has delivered over $2 million in federal resources over the past eight months to further Launch NY’s ability to help high-growth, high-impact business across 27 New York counties.

"As the only venture funding CDFI directly investing in Western New York startups, we are gratified to be in a position to bring these funds to our most promising high-growth startup companies. We're leveraging our track record as the most active seed fund in the state, attracting 18 times our dollars so these businesses can jumpstart our economic recovery," said Marnie LaVigne, Ph.D., president and CEO of Launch NY.

Westminster Economic Development Initiative was awarded $200,000 to expand opportunities for new entrepreneurs. WEDI offers support through its microloan program and business incubator, the West Side Bazaar.

“WEDI will use these funds to continue to provide small business lending to entrepreneurs who are unable to access loans through traditional financial institutions, like banks and credit unions,” WEDI Executive Director Carolynn Welch said. “As an organization, we look forward to partnering with these institutions to provide technical assistance and capital funds to small businesses so we can increase their capacity and ability to obtain bank loans. These funds will advance our mission of removing systemic barriers to economic equity in Western New York.”

•A $1 million award for the Seneca Nation of Indians Economic Development Company will expand the organization’s work supporting small business and extending development loans for enrolled Seneca members.

“Small businesses started by the Seneca people have been a cornerstone on our territories for generations,” Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels said. “The CDFI funding announced by Congressman Higgins will not only help more Seneca businesses address the economic challenges brought on by pandemic, but also provide opportunities for business growth and development, which helps to expand and diversify our Seneca economy.”

Congress approved $1.25 billion to CDFIs for projects and programs that “support, prepare for, and respond to the economic impact” of the pandemic.

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