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Higgins: $375,000 for Westminster Economic Development Initiative


Sat, Nov 12th 2022 11:15 am

Federal resources dedicated to small business support

Congressman Brian Higgins recently announced WEDI received two federal grants totaling $375,000. A grant for $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement will continue support for refugee-owned microenterprises. Another $125,000 grant is allocated through the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CFDI) fund.

“WEDI has an incredible track record of supporting aspiring entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds,” Higgins said. “The recent fire at West Side Bazaar was devastating for the small businesses operating there and heartbreaking for the community. These funds will help WEDI continue to do what it does best, launch new businesses and sustain them, all over the region.”

Executive Director Carolynn Welch said, “While the grants can’t be applied to remediate the losses we and our business owners suffered as a result of the fire on Sept. 20, it will be used to help provide the free business technical assistance and professional services we offer hundreds of our clients, including the 11 bazaar business owners whom we are dedicated to getting back up and running as soon as possible. We’re grateful to receive these grants once again, as it is crucial to our strategic planning, budgeting, and the sustainability of our organization, though individual donations remain vital while we navigate the aftermath of the fire and the costs that continue to be revealed.”

WEDI is a certified CDFI, supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs through microloans and the successful business incubator West Side Bazaar. The goal of the CDFI program is to increase economic opportunity and community development among underserved populations in distressed communities. The grant for WEDI is provided through a CDFI Technical Assistance award, designed to allow institutions with resources to expand and enhance programs and support for small businesses.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Refugee Microenterprise Development Program (MED) assists refugees in becoming economically self-sufficient by providing grants and loans to establish microenterprise businesses and assist refugees in building or their repairing credit history. WEDI provides microloans to entrepreneurs, including refugees, who lack access to traditional financial institutions.

Higgins’ team said, “Protecting these aspiring business owners from acquiring loans through predatory lenders, they provide assistance, education, and training to help previously unbankable enterprises with a pathway to access financing from banks, while supporting the foundations of their business. Funding from this grant program will allow WEDI to continue supporting refugee entrepreneurs in Western New York, especially as our community continues to welcome new families.”

Higgins previously announced $950,000 in federal funding, secured in the 2022 federal budget, for the West Side Bazaar expansion project.

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