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Empire State Development announces round 2 of small business grants in east Buffalo


Fri, Jun 23rd 2023 10:30 am

$5,000 to $50,000 grants available for small businesses in designated area of east Buffalo; round 2 will feature expanded geographic boundaries and additional technical assistance 

Empire State Development (ESD) announced applications for round 2 of the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program are available from June 23 to July 21. The $3 million program provides grants of $5,000 to $50,000 to eligible small businesses in a designated area of east Buffalo to help largely minority-owned establishments rebound from the social and economic impacts of the mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue in 2022. In round 1 of the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program, 47 businesses were awarded $614,000.

“Empire State Development is committed to supporting east Buffalo businesses with the operational help they need to grow, and building on the success of the initial round of our grant program, this new round provides even more targeted help to where it will have the greatest impact,” said ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight. “I encourage business owners to take advantage of an expanded eligibility map and added technical assistance to apply for the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program. Through this program and others, New York state affirms its strong partnership with these predominantly minority-owned enterprises as they continue to serve the community.”

Local Initiatives Support Corp. – New York (LISC NYC) Senior Executive Director Valerie White said, “We’re thankful to Gov. Hochul for continuing the success of the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program and helping this community recover from tragedy as we work to uplift and empower small, and mainly minority-owned, businesses. LISC NY is proud to administer this program on behalf of Empire State Development, and we encourage eligible businesses to seize this opportunity and apply for the grants. Together, we can forge a brighter future for the region’s economy and ensure the long-term success of our community.”

A press release stated, “Round 2 will broaden applications and eligibility by expanding the program’s geographic boundaries to the beltway. Program partners, including the Exchange at Beverly Gray and The Foundry, will also offer additional technical assistance on program applications to small businesses applying to the progam. LISC NYC is administering the program on behalf of ESD. Eligible businesses can submit preapplications here. For more information on the program, including eligibility and FAQs, click here.

The press release noted round 1 awardees included:

•Challenger Community News Corp: This business/weekly newspaper was founded, and continues to be based entirely upon serving, as the Black community’s primary source of print news and information; from showcasing honor students and covering church news and civic activities to editorializing issues that impact the community (locally as well as nationally) in Buffalo and surrounding areas. Every week, the publication provides relevant information from a Black perspective, as well as a platform for opinions.

•Nanny’s Nook Quality Home Daycare Inc.: Nanny’s Nook Quality Home Daycare Center has connected with the community by providing quality, affordable child care to the community for more than 20 years. It has received numerous awards for its commitment to quality, affordable child care. It has enhanced the positive image of child care with awards including the Community Service Award 2022 (Masjid Nu’Man); The Buffalo Award Program (Childcare) 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023; and the Excellence Award 2016-2017 (Women of Substance Inc).

•Aunt Connie’s Ed-U-Kitchen LLC: Aunt Connie’s has conducted healthy, hands-on cooking classes with the constituents of many community organizations. The program, with the Buffalo Urban League, has resulted in students achieving ServSafe Food Handling certificates, and Aunt Connie’s has been able to initiate job placements. The program serves youth and seniors in teaching culinary skills and impacting eating behaviors.

•Crews Control Media LLC: Supporting Black-owned media companies can help to create a more equitable and diverse media landscape, and contribute to the economic empowerment of the Black community. The round 1 program award will leverage resources to create more jobs and change the economic trajectory of those the company is creating employment opportunities for and for the community at large.

•Monarch of Infinite Possibilities LLC: MIP serves the Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and faith-based community by providing awareness and training about clean energy, climate change and other environmentally focused initiatives, as well as increasing diverse audiences in the arts by putting “BUTS” in the seats at the opera, theater and various arts spaces. MIP works with pastors on the east side to provide awareness about environmental justice and ways to help the community.

•Zawadi Books: Zawadi Books serves as a resource center for the Western New York community, providing knowledge and history of African and African American culture to provide a better understanding of Black culture and history. Today, Zawadi Books is one of America’s longest-operated independent-Black-owned bookstores, with over 40 years in business.

Round 2 – Expanded Program Boundaries and Grant Application Assistance

The expanded east Buffalo round 2 program area is bounded by the following streets/highways: Main Street (properties fronting on both sides); North Street (properties fronting on both sides); Michigan Street (properties fronting on both sides); William Street (properties fronting on both sides); Belt Line, also known as the Eastern DL&W Rail line (properties west of the corridor); and Kensington Avenue (properties on both sides). See map of eligible area here. Grants will be made available based upon an eligible businesses’ documented gross annual sales. Nonprofit organizations are ineligible organizations.

Two of LISC’s partner organizations, The Exchange at Beverly Gray and The Foundry, are providing on-the-ground application assistance to business owners in need. If businesses need assistance scanning documents, accessing a computer, or filling out program application paperwork, they can visit The Exchange or The Foundry during their grant application assistance office hours:

•The Exchange at Beverly Gray

334 E. Utica St., Buffalo

Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. // Thursdays, 1-4 p.m.

•The Foundry

298 Northampton St., Buffalo

Mondays, 6-9 p.m. // Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If needed, translation services for the application will also be available through the International Institute.

An East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program Round 2 public information session will take place in-person from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, June 27, at the Buffalo Employment Training Center, located at 77 Goodell St. An additional online webinar will be held at 2 p.m. June 28, hosted by Beverly Gray. For more information on the webinar and registration, click here.

The program stems from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s June 2022 pledge of $50 million in east Buffalo community investments in housing, business and other relief, following the May 14 Tops Supermarket attack in the Jefferson Avenue Business District.

Other investments stemming from this announcement include a community-led food access initiative involving assistance to a new African Heritage Food Co-op project, and expanding free transportation services to neighborhood residents in need of additional food options; small business facade/capital assistance programs in east Buffalo business districts; support for job training efforts such as Goodwill’s new Goodskills Career Builder office on Jefferson Avenue; and tens of millions for foreclosure prevention, home repair assistance, and access to capital for first-time home buyers.

The press release noted, “All these are in addition to Gov. Hochul’s east Buffalo commitments under the Regional Revitalization Partnership, announced with local philanthropic partners and the City of Buffalo, providing a combined investment of $180 million in east Buffalo for small business support and key projects. Those projects include revitalization of the Broadway Market and restoration of iconic historic resources like the Buffalo Central Terminal, the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, and MLK Park.”

LISC NYC was established in 1980 and is the New York chapter of a national, not-for-profit organization that equips underinvested communities with the capital, strategy, and know-how to create more equitable, inclusive and sustainable communities.

State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, “Small business is at the heart of our economy, and these Small Business Grants will be critical to helping entrepreneurs strengthen their enterprises and create stability. I strongly encourage eligible businesses to apply for this funding which will help to open doors to prosperity and growth.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “After Round 1’s success of 47 businesses receiving over $600,000, I’m excited to see the announcement of Round 2 for small business assistance and its program expansion. I appreciate the vision and action of Gov. Hochul, Empire State Development, LISC NY, and our local providers: The Exchange at Beverly Gray and The Foundry. I implore interested entrepreneurs and small business owners to review the qualifications, attend the public information sessions, seek out available technical assistance, and apply for resources to bring them closer to realizing their small business dreams.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “By strengthening local small businesses we are creating a stronger overall community, and this grant program will do that for minority-owned businesses on Buffalo’s east Side. I encourage business owners in the applicable area to check their eligibility and get involved. Together we can build a better Buffalo and a better Erie County.”

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “In order to continue to heal and grow in east Buffalo following the racially motivated mass shooting on May 14, 2022, all stakeholders must work collaboratively to fulfill the community’s vision. It is crucial that we support small black-owned businesses to continue to build an inclusive economy. I thank Gov. Hochul for providing additional grant opportunities for east Buffalo. The city’s Office of Strategic Planning will help spread the word to eligible businesses to apply for these funds.”

Erie County Legislature Chair April N. M. Baskin said, “I want to encourage residents of east Buffalo to apply for these grants. Our community was devastated by the choices made by government and businesses over the course of the past 50 years. Now that we have a governor like Kathy Hochul, who is prioritizing investment in our community, we need to take advantage of the opportunities being offered.”

More About LISC NY

LISC NY is the New York office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). LISC NY supports local partners across New York whose services and programs aim to create a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable New York.  Since 1980, LISC NY has invested over $3.1 billion and leveraged an additional $7.6 billion in support of low-income communities.

For more information about LISC NY and its programs and advocacy, visit here.

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