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City launches Small Business Boost counseling pilot program

City launches Small Business Boost counseling pilot program

The city of Rochester and Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund have launched Small Business Boost, a pilot program designed to connect small business owners and entrepreneurs to one-on-one counseling.

Through the Small Business Boost pilot, Rochester Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) counselors will support business owners and entrepreneurs in navigating personal financial challenges. Those challenges often present barriers to success in building wealth through business ownership.

“The Small Business Boost initiative demonstrates how partnerships can help build economic self-reliance, provide financial resources and enhance the quality of life for Rochester’s citizens,” Mayor Malik Evans said in a news release.

“We are pleased to partner with this citizen-centered initiative to educate and position our entrepreneurs to increase their business capital through the Small Business Boost. We want to keep up this momentum for current and future generations of business owners and entrepreneurs to build a more robust and equitable Rochester.”

The CFE Fund, a nonprofit, received a $1 million grant from Principal Foundation to launch Small Business Boost pilots in five cities (the others are Pittsburgh; Akron, Ohio; Lansing, Mich., and Polk County, Iowa). The CFE Fund worked with Rochester and other Financial Empowerment Center partners to connect local entrepreneurship and small business support services with financial counseling.

More information for interested entrepreneurs and small business owners is available on the program website. Appointments may be scheduled by calling Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester (585-252-7110), or from the FEC website.

A counselor will be available weekly at the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and remotely for all business owners and entrepreneurs in Rochester as well as Monroe County.

The Rochester Financial Empowerment Center launched in February 2020 and has helped more than 1,700 residents, business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs reduce debt by $1.2 million and build savings by almost $1.3 million.

While it is illegal to deny credit based on race or ethnicity, national data reveal that lower access to capital for Black-and Latinx-owned businesses makes it challenging to create and sustain business operations.

“Running a small business can be a critical driver of opportunity, helping entrepreneurs build financial stability and wealth for themselves, their families, and their communities — but for too many people, their finances are a barrier to making a solid start,” said Jonathan Mintz, president and CEO of CFE Fund.

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