Buffalo Business Forward

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Byron W. Brown and The City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning have been providing businesses with the latest information about the COVID-19 emergency and the City of Buffalo's response to adequately restore economic activity. Buffalo Business Forward will continue to be a central resource and communication tool for Buffalo's business community, providing updates on new business assistance opportunities, business resources, and guidance as businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Buffalo is open for business and our office is excited to support the business community as our local economy moves forward.

Buffalo Small Business Map and Directory

The Mayor's Office of Strategic Planning encourages local, small businesses in the City of Buffalo to register for our Small Business map and directory. 

We will continue to provide our business community with important business updates, resources and other guidance. Please select the option to sign up to receive these updates on our Registration Form

City Hall and Moon

Business Health and Safety Guidelines

EFFECTIVE November 23, 2021, staff, guests, and patrons at all indoor public locations are required to wear a mask/face covering in compliance with the Erie County Mask Mandate. This includes but is not limited to:

  • bars and food service establishments
  • grocery stores and other retail businesses
  • personal care establishments (barbershops, nail/hair salons, tattoo and piercing shops and similar locations)
  • places of worship, including during prayer
  • hotels, banks and all other places open to the public
  • indoor fitness establishments(gyms, Pilates studios, yoga studios, martial arts, and similar locations)
  • theatres (movie & live)
  • indoor entertainment (e.g., hockey rinks, bowling alleys) for both players and spectators.

Please reference Erie County Department of Health's checklist if you are an impacted business HERE. As an impacted business, you are required to make sure your employees, guests and patrons wear a mask properly while inside your facility.

Please reference the full announcement HERE

On June 15, 2021 New York State lifted all COVID-19 restrictions as 70 percent of New Yorkers aged 18 or older received the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccination series.

  • These New York Forward guidelines are still in effect: Active Guidance
  • Archived New York Forward industry reopening guidance are no longer mandatory. These documents are being made available as a public reference and resource only: Archived Guidance
  • For additional health and safety tips, please visit our Health Resources tab.

COVID-19 Business Assistance and Relief

The City of Buffalo’s  Business Assistance page has up-to-date state, local, and federal business assistance resources.

The New York State COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program was created to provided flexible grant assistance to currently viable small businesses, micro-businesses and for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations in the State of New York. Find more information HERE

The New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF) continues to accept applications. The $100 million fund is a economic recovery loan program aimed at supporting New York State small businesses, nonprofits, and small landlords as they reopen after COVID-19 and NYS on PAUSE. 

Buffalo Business Forward Grant Program

Applications are now open for the Buffalo Business Forward Small Business Grant Program. Qualifying businesses can receive grants up to $25,000. The new grant effort is a collaboration that includes the City’s Office of Strategic Planning (OSP) and the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA), the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) and the SUNY-Buffalo State College Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

The approximately $1 million in grant funds will come from the remaining Federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (Cares Act) funding to be distributed via BURA’s Community Development Block Grant – Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) Fund. Microenterprises and small businesses with 1-50 employees will be eligible to access this small business funding, as well as specialized technical assistance geared toward business recovery planning. 

Please find more information at buffalobusinessgrants.com

Please reference our Buffalo Business Forward Grant Program Flyer HERE

Small Business Development

If you are looking to start or grow your business in the City of Buffalo, we have resources HEREOur economic development office continues to work with microenterprise groups and other City partners to provide new resources for our small business community. 

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at SUNY Buffalo State provides management and technical assistance to start-up and existing small businesses throughout Erie County. For small business assistance, please call (716) 878-4030. 

The Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) is a local Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), offering small amounts of capital to entrepreneurs who lack access to traditional financial institutions. Interested in applying for a Microloan for your business? Fill out WEDI's registration form and you will be contacted by a staff member to WEDI's loan program and application process.

In addition to WEDI and SBDC at SUNY Buffalo State, our office works with LISC WNYPursuit LendingPathstone Enterprise CenterU.S. Small Business AdministrationSCORE Buffalo Niagara, and Empire State Development (ESD). We encourage our small local businesses to reach out to these organizations as they are providing various types of business assistance and guidance during these troubling times.

Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) 

Mayor Brown stays committed to serving Minority and Women-Owned Enterprises(M/WBE) in our community. On June 13, 2021, Mayor Byron W. Brown announced the creation of a $3.5 million Minority Owned Business Support Program to be administered by the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center (BGBEC). See the full press release HERE.

The Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center serves small businesses on Buffalo’s East Side and throughout Western New York. The Exchange is one-stop technical resource center, focusing on Minority and Women-Owned Enterprises(M/WBE). You can contact the Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center by email: info@beverlygraycenter.com and by phone: 716-800-2171.

Launch NY's Founders Go Big program, developed in 2020, provides funding and mentorship opportunities to minority entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses. Please find more information HERE.

The Buffalo Urban League provides a wide variety of services for minority entrepreneurs. In addition to support for entrepreneurs, the Buffalo Urban League provides programs for family preservation and support, housing and community development, and workforce development. The Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals group, an entity of the Buffalo Urban League, is designed to serve as an empowerment forum for young professionals aged 21 to 40 living and doing business in Buffalo.

The Women's Business Center at Canisius College provides a wide variety of services to support women business owners including business counseling and mentorship opportunities. You can contact the Women's Business Center at Canisius College by email: wbcinfo@canisius.edu and by phone (716) 888-8280.

Small Business Social Distancing Initiative

During the COVID-19 global health emergency, businesses were limited in capacity in order to comply with social distancing requirements, and non-essential businesses were required to shut down in spring and fall of 2020 as result of the NY on PAUSE order. In June of 2020, the City of Buffalo launched the Small Business Social Distancing Initiative (SBSDI) to help small businesses while safety measures are in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mayor Byron Brown convened a task force, chaired by Delaware District Councilmember Joel Feroleto and comprised of restauranteurs, transportation advocates, marketing experts, and City Hall staff, to examine ways of allowing small businesses and restaurants to use open spaces, like privately owned parking lots, sidewalks, or other City-owned property, to create open air seating or retail so they can maintain proper social distancing. The initiative has successfully assisted 44 businesses (43 restaurants/taverns and one retailer) to expand outdoor dining and product display during one of the most challenging economic periods in recent memory. 

Given the success and positive feedback of the SBSDI, the Brown Administration working with Councilmember Joel Feroleto, the chair of the Small Business Social Distancing Advisory Committee (SBSDAC) filed a further extension of the legislation through Spring of 2022. On November 16th, 2021, the City of Buffalo Common Council approved the extension through March 31st, 2022. Please reference Chapter 415 Small Business Social Distancing Strategy Further Amended.

If your business has a sidewalk cafe license for the 2021 season, you may continue to use your sidewalk cafe through March 31, 2022 under SBSDI regulations (415-10 Guidelines). 

If your business does not have a sidewalk cafe license and you are seeking to use streets, sidewalks, and other public or privately owned outdoor space, please fill out a Small Business Social Distancing Exterior Premises Use Application. In addition, if the business does not have a current sidewalk cafe license, the business must start an application with the Department of Permits and Inspections (DPIS) for the 2022 season in Room 301 of City Hall. Phone: 716-851-4972.

Businesses are responsible for obtaining necessary permits and meeting any other applicable requirements for heaters and heating systems from the Department of Permits and Inspections (DPIS). Phone: 716-851-4972.

Development

Buffalo is a great place to do business. New development in our commercial, residential, and industrial sectors continues to have a long-lasting impact on Buffalo’s economic recovery. 

Are you interested in development? Please visit our Commercial Tax Incentives, Grants, and Financing Page and our Bid Opportunities Page.

Since 2012, there has been approximately $8 billion in economic investment citywide. Mayor Byron W. Brown and Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning launched an interactive map for community residents to see new development projects completed or in progress going back to 2017. Buffalo continues to see exciting new development momentum throughout our community. Please access our development project map at the link below:

City of Buffalo Development Project Map

The Broadway Market

Located on 999 Broadway St in East Buffalo’s historic Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, the Broadway Market is open year-round. For more information on market vendors and market events please visit the Broadway Market website.

Are you interested in becoming a vendor? The first step would be to make an appointment with the Broadway Market Management office, 716-893-0705, to discuss your product. You will need to complete an application and have a business plan. The Broadway Market is currently accepting applications from business owners who are interested in opening a full time food business in the market.

Find the 2021-2021 Seasonal Vendor Application HERE