Congressman Higgins Announces $356,000 for Efforts to Boost Small Business Opportunities & Grow Jobs in Western New York

Federal Grants Awarded to Launch NY and Westminster Economic Development Initiative

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced federal grants totaling $356,000 to support the growth of small businesses and jobs in Western New York.  The federal funding is allocated through the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund).  The mission of the CDFI program is to increase economic opportunity and community development for underserved populations in distressed communities.

“Western New York is fortunate to have innovative partners in Launch NY and the Westminster Economic Development Initiative supporting eager new entrepreneurs in the development of new businesses,” said Congressman Higgins.  “This federal funding will support the good work they are doing guiding initiatives that feed the local economy.”

Since established in 2012, Launch NY has helped more than 700 companies employing more than 2,280 people.  Launch NY intends to use its CDFI award of $168,000 to address the existing gap in mentor-driven seed capital for high-growth potential startup businesses.  Through collaborations, Launch NY will work to establish partnerships that optimize the coordination of resources, including access to new markets tax credits.

“We are thankful for Congressman Higgins’ dedication to entrepreneurship and innovation in Western New York as a key driver of economic transformation. This award will help us grow the Launch NY Seed Fund to make more of the necessary early investments in Buffalo’s most promising startups to fuel job and wealth creation in the region’ while spawning products and services that improve quality of life for people around the globe,” said Marnie LaVigne, PhD, President and CEO of Launch NY.

Founded in 2006, Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) empowers economically disadvantaged people throughout Buffalo through community building, education, and economic development. In addition to operating the West Side Bazaar, a unique small business incubator that supports a diverse set of entrepreneurs offering authentic products in a marketplace setting, WEDI has empowered hundreds of businesses to launch and expand through disbursing over $650,000 in microloans since 2014.  WEDI will receive $188,000 to expand the rate of impact of this fund.

Ben Bissell, Executive Director of WEDI said, “WEDI is thankful for the CDFI award and Congressman Higgin’s support, which allow us to scale our impact and further empower low-income and diverse entrepreneurs throughout Buffalo. Expect to see new small businesses launching and expanding in commercial corridors everywhere. Each step we take ensures the rising tide raises all boats in a newly prospering Buffalo.”

The two Western New York organizations were among 265 across the country receiving a total of over $171 million in CDFI funding in 2017.