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Small Business Association Awarded Grants Helping Businesses and Entrepreneurs

By: Carol Elizabeth Owens

Photo taken from the Rochester Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) Facebook page.

The Rochester Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) announced on Oct. 28, 2021, that it was awarded a $1,000,000 grant from the Small Business Administration (SBA).  

This award aims to accelerate enhancement of Rochester’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through extension of the Resource Partner Enhancement Program (RPEP), which is designed to provide developmental support and collaboration opportunities which increase the cultural relevance of services and resources offered by local entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs).

In November of 2020, the first installment of RPEP launched with $1,500,000 in support from Empire State Development (ESD) as part of REDCO’s Revitalize Rochester Fund.  The Urban League of Rochester, Ibero-American Action League, The Rochester Commissary, JustCause, Walker’s Legacy Foundation, and the Greater Works Collaborative participated in last year’s RPEP initiative.  

Partnerships which evolved through the first year of RPEP led to development of new community-based business centers, legal and food-based business workshop series, financial and technical assistance programs, special technology-based certification training, and operational efficiencies designed to better meet diverse small business needs.

Dr. Lomax Campbell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Third Eye Network shared his thoughts about RPEP activities over the last year.  “Our first cohort has been able to accelerate the evolution of their organizations and increase the relevance of their offerings for our diverse small business program community,” said Campbell. “I am overjoyed by the SBA’s transformational investment in our second cohort of the Resource Partner Enhancement Program!”

The program leverages public investment and a team of organizational coaches to build and maintain a cooperative network of support services for Rochester’s diverse small business community.

“I’ve never seen this before! This is the beginning of a new era of collaboration between our partners in service to our local entrepreneur community, and ultimately their families,” said Baye Muhammad, Chief Executive Officer of REDCO.

The second installment of the RPEP initiative is scheduled to launch during the winter of 2021.  Anticipated organizational participants include RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, the Venture Jobs Foundation, Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester, and the Business Insight Center of the Rochester Public Library.

Each organization will be assigned a coach who will assist with the development of evidence-informed enhancement plans, as well as piloting new and improved programs and resources. Participating organizations will also attend annual conventions, participate in an Undoing Racism® Workshop, and collaborate with their peers during monthly enhancement meetings.