Funds available for MWBEs during pandemic

The Urban League of Rochester N.Y. Inc. has been selected to administer a $100,000 small business stabilization fund provided by the KeyBank Business Boost & Build Program powered by JumpStart.

The Small Business Relief and Retooling Grant Program will support minority- and women-owned businesses in Monroe County and is part of a $500,000 commitment by KeyBank and Jumpstart to provide relief to small business communities throughout Upstate New York in response to the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Small Business Relief & Retooling Grant program will augment the city of Rochester’s successful Business Emergency Retention Grant (BERG) by providing targeted assistance to MWBE businesses. The BERG grants, averaging $2,000, may be used for working capital, business expenses to continue operations and to retain employees. Together, the two grants can provide qualified city businesses with as much as $7,000 in grant funding, officials said.

“I applaud KeyBank and the Urban League of Rochester for creating the Small Business Relief and Retooling Grant to help minority- and women-owned businesses survive the economic storm brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren in a statement. “This grant will complement the success of the city’s Business Emergency Retention Grant and help keep minority- and women-owned businesses viable through this challenge. Public-private partnerships like this play a vital role in our efforts to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities.”

Vulnerable communities including communities of color have been particularly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Small business owners are facing challenges in sustaining their business during this period and many are ineligible or not positioned to receive federal relief funding, officials noted in the statement. The funding is intended to fill identified gaps in relief funding while also providing technical assistance and one-on-one business consultation, including financial resiliency training classes provided by the Urban League in partnership with TruFund Financial Inc., a New York City-based Community Development Financial Institution.

“The COVID-19 crisis has presented unprecedented challenges to small businesses in our region and they need our collective support,” said Phil Muscato, KeyBank Rochester Market president. “We are proud to partner with JumpStart to provide crucial funding, assistance and hope that will help our community move forward and recover.”

Eligible minority- and women-owned businesses in the industries of service and hospitality, lifestyle or health and wellness, can receive grants of up to $7,000 per business while funds last. Grants will be prioritized for those who could not receive or who were not eligible for emergency relief funding through the SBA.

“Now, more than ever, small business owners need the support of the Urban League to help pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Urban League President and CEO Seanelle Hawkins. “We are grateful to KeyBank for its continued commitment in supporting our community with a keen focus on small businesses. The program will help business owners implement resiliency and retooling strategies to help their businesses move forward and grow.”

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Learn about women- and minority-owned businesses at expos

Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development will sponsor a series of expos this year to provide minority- and women-owned business enterprises with information and resources to help them grow.

“New York leads the nation in building access, opportunity and tools for minority and women owned businesses to thrive because our economy and our workforce are strongest when we rise together,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release this week. “The 2018 MWBE Opportunities Expo builds on our ongoing efforts to grow an inclusive, vibrant economy that represents the great diversity of our state, and I urge any eligible entrepreneur to attend a workshop in their community.”

The Finger Lakes event will be held July 19 at Rochester Educational Opportunity Center on Chestnut Street. Twelve events will be held statewide this year and will feature workshops and panel discussions about the state MWBE certification and business development resources.

Events will include the state MWBE Boot Camp, which links regional technical assistance resources to MWBEs. The Expos also will include information about state-sponsored financial and technical assistance programs, including the New York State Surety Bond Assistance program and the Bridge to Success loan program.

“As someone who helped start several women-owned businesses, I know the challenges in finding capital and the many other barriers that exist,” said Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul. “The annual MWBE Opportunities Expo will help break down barriers and help women and minority entrepreneurs take their business to the next level.”

New York has the nation’s highest goal for the utilization of MWBEs on state contracts at 30 percent. In 2016-17, the rate of MWBEs participating in state contracts increased to 27.2 percent, totaling more than $2.2 billion in state contracts.

“The annual MWBE Opportunities Expo is an invaluable resource for small businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to increase their capacity and participation in the marketplace,” ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said. “Our economy is strongest when it is accessible and diverse, and we encourage businesses to visit their local expo event and learn more about how New York State’s MWBE resources can help them grow and succeed.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer