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REDCO invests over $2M, served over 150 businesses in two years

REDCO invests over $2M, served over 150 businesses in two years

Purchasing and renovating a building during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was no small feat for Damaris Rivera, but not only did the owner of R Realty Rochester LLC do just that, she is on track to complete the project ahead of schedule. 

Rivera plans to open her new office at 86-88 Lake Ave. in roughly two months. She would not have been able to do so in that timeframe without support and financial assistance from the Rochester Economic Development Corp., she said.

“The support gave me the opportunity to make this project happen,” Rivera said. 

The new location includes a downstairs space for R Realty, with a luxury Airbnb upstairs.  

Rivera also plans to use the space to give back to other like-minded entrepreneurs, with plans to create a small business boot camp to support other city business owners. 

She is already helping businesses by letting them know about the services REDCO offers, including helping businesses with a track record of success who may not qualify for similar funding programs that offer low-interest loans and grants.  

“It’s a nice breath of fresh air that we needed,” she said of REDCO.  

Since its inception in February 2020 as a standalone nonprofit separate from city government, REDCO has continued to accelerate its contributions to economic development, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Since then, the organization has invested some $2.32 million and served over 150 businesses helping create or retain more than 200 jobs.  

The agency’s purpose is to drive community-based economic development that increases wealth in every part of the city.  

In addition to funding and financing options, REDCO’s services include educational programs, cooperative partnership services, workshops and strategic consulting. 


“We want to help businesses make sure they have everything in order and have what they need to succeed,” said REDCO CEO Baye Muhammad. 

The organization has been busy. 

As a result of challenges due to COVID-19, REDCO provided the city of Rochester Public Market with a $50,000 grant to help assist market vendors who had been adversely affected by the pandemic.  

Other businesses REDCO has supported of late include Mamasan’s, East Avenue Dentistry, the Mercantile on Main, the Commissary and Velvet Belly.  

In addition, REDCO has assisted the 19th Ward Community Association and the Hudson Avenue Business Association. 

A focus now is helping businesses after they secure funding, Muhammad said, noting many business owners can use additional support in areas such as strategic planning, accounting and vendor selection.  

The organization recently launched the REDCO Business Certification Program in partnership with Monroe Community College. It is a comprehensive, high-level curriculum designed to educate entrepreneurs and small business owners on all nuances of successful business ownership.  

In October, REDCO was awarded a $1 million Small Business Administration grant to continue to improve Rochester’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through its Resource Partner Enhancement Program. 

It is a two-year peer learning cohort program that leverages public investment and a team of organizational coaches to build and maintain a cooperative network of support services for the region’s diverse small business community.  

The program identifies gaps in small business technical assistance, access to capital, business planning and training, while highlighting opportunities for current and new entrepreneurial support services and resources. 

Cohort two launched this week and includes Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, Venture Jobs Foundation, Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester and the Business Insight Center at the Rochester Public Library among its participating organizations.  

Cohort one launched in November with $1.5 million in support from Empire State Development as part of REDCO’s Revitalize Rochester Fund.  

Cohort one participating organizations include Urban League of Rochester, Ibero-American Action League, the Rochester Commissary, JustCause, Walker’s Legacy Foundation and Greater Works Collaborative. 

[email protected] / (585) 653-4021