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Higgins: $750,000 to help WNY small businesses establish & expand e-commerce


Wed, May 3rd 2023 07:00 am

Program led by the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Buffalo State provides companies tools to sell products & services online

During Small Business Week, Congressman Brian Higgins announced $750,000 in federal funding to help Western New York start-ups and existing small businesses develop a website and facilitate opportunities to grow online sales. The funding, secured by Higgins in the 2022 budget, is directed to the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Buffalo State, which is leading the e-commerce program.

Higgins said, “Today’s interconnected world offers small business owners the opportunity to reach a worldwide customer base. And while very good at what they do, many of these owners don’t have the expertise or resources to develop a well-designed, secure and effective website. This program, led by the expert team at the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Buffalo State, opens doors of opportunity for local entrepreneurs and supports the growth of Western New York small business.”

“With Congressman Higgin’s allocation we have been doing essential and game-changing work for our small business owners,” said Dr. Susan A. McCartney, director of the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Buffalo State. “Today, a website is a requirement of doing business. Because of this program, many of our minority-owned businesses are far more competitive. The website makes the difference.”

Higgins’ team said, “E-commerce surged throughout the pandemic and continues to be a growing choice for many consumers. From retail to restaurants, many local small businesses scrambled during COVID to enhance their online presence and stay profitable.

“With the resources secured by Congressman Higgins, the SBDC at SUNY Buffalo State has set up a free program to help minority and women-owned businesses in Western New York develop and improve their online business platform. Owners complete a detailed survey about their business, brand identity, desired website features, and company goals before working with experienced website developers to improve or create a website. Over two-dozen local entrepreneurs have already benefited from the program.”

Monica Miles and Kate Haq, co-founders of Mother Earth Literacies, said, “Our new and improved website has professionalized our business in a few short weeks! Not only are we able to connect with potential nonprofit partners in a seamless and efficient way, but Daniel put all of our curriculum units for sale on our new site so we are able to connect with educators across our region and get our antiracist and locally based curriculum into the hands of teachers for their students. Our site is gorgeous, and we have already gotten compliments on its ease of use.”

Madison Bryant-Wagstaff, founder and CEO of Madison’s Fabulous Creations, added, “I had no idea that constructing a website of this capacity would require so many steps and time. It is not as easy as it might appear. I have not had an official e-commerce site to this extent. Having this online presence is only the beginning of the growth of my brand. I am very optimistic and looking forward to seeing the results of our hard work!”

Creations by Lena owner Jessica Frederick said, “Websites help to establish trust with consumers, selling of products, and cultivate brand building, in addition to providing customer convenience. This grant was paramount in the launch of Creations by Lena. As an entrepreneur, this grant has saved me thousands of dollars and countless hours in website development through the expertise of Kristen. I must also thank Congressman Brian Higgins for his generosity in supporting small business owners, like myself, through this grant. The SBDC has provided me with the tools to become a successful business owner and carry on the legacy of my late mother, Lena, by continuing to create.”

In 2021, Higgins worked with SBDC Buffalo to host a virtual free workshop to help Western New York small businesses be best prepared to take advantage of government contracts and funding opportunities.

The Small Business Development Center at SUNY Buffalo State provides management and technical assistance to businesses in the Erie-Niagara Region. For more information on the e-commerce programs and other assistance the center provides, call 716-878-4030, email [email protected] or visit www.sbdc.buffalostate.edu.

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