March 21 – Mayor Byron W. Brown today proclaimed March 21, 2017 U.S. Conference of Mayor’s National Day of Immigration in Buffalo. The local proclamation is part of an effort by mayors across the country to call attention to the contributions of immigrants and refugees, and to highlight resources in the City of Buffalo, like the Westminster Economic Development Initiative, that exist for all city residents, including newcomers from all over the world.As a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Brown seeks to bring resources to Buffalo that have been a benefit to other cities. In recognition of today’s National Day of Immigration Action, Mayor nomination of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative’s (WEDI) West Side Bazaar Expansion Initiative for the 2017 Wells Fargo and USCMCommunityWINS Grant Program.
“Through this grant program, WEDI could receive up to $300,000 in grant funding to support expansion of the West Side Bazaar. WEDI was instrumental in sowing the seeds for what has become an incredibly successful business incubator and market place showcasing entrepreneurs from Buffalo’s growing immigrant and refugee communities,” Mayor Brown said. “We whole-heartedly back WEDI’s effort to expand this venture which creates new businesses, new jobs and builds on Buffalo’s efforts to stabilize neighborhoods and grow its economy city-wide,” Mayor Brown said.
WEDI Executive Director Ben Bissell said the CommunityWINS dollars would be a major help to further his agency’s vision for the West Side Bazaar which includes increased opportunities for business training, technical assistance, micro-loans and potential for added retail space to house more businesses."WEDI is thankful that the mayor has called on us to expand our efforts in supporting immigrant entrepreneurs through the Wells Fargo US Conference of Mayors "Community Wins" Grant. By partnering with WEDI's West Side Bazaar expansion initiative, he is not only empowering diverse communities of entrepreneurs, but also creating a space for Buffalo residents to come together,” Bissell said.
"By partnering with the city of Buffalo and Mayor Byron Brown, the West Side Bazaar will represent more communities in the pursuit of their American dream; as more entrepreneurs own and operate businesses, the greater Buffalo community will prosper,” said Michelle Holler, Manager, West Side Bazaar.
“WEDI’s experience in working with multilingual and multicultural communities makes it an ideal partner to advance long-term economic prosperity in Buffalo’s growing refugee and immigrant communities. We’re privileged to be a support to them as they make their services available and accessible to all City residents,” said Jessica Lazarin, Executive Director, City’s Office of New AmericansThe joint City-WEDI application for the CommunityWINS grant competition outlines how the Office of New Americans will assist growth of the West Side Bazaar through community outreach to the immigrant and refugee communities regarding WEDI services. WEDI will provide expanded educational assistance, business evaluation, technical support to start to new businesses and help entrepreneurs already in the program strategically manage their growth.The deadline for applications for the 2017 CommunityWINS grant program was March 17th and an independent panel of judges will convene in April to review and score applications. Winners of the competition will be announced in Junes at 85th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Council of Mayors. A total of $1 million in grants will be awarded in small, medium and large city categories. The City of Buffalo-WEDI application will be judged in the large city category where two grants will be awarded: a $300,000 grant for the Overall Winner and a $75,000 grant for Outstanding Achievement.
About WEDI:Westminster Presbyterian Church founded the Westminster Economic Development Initiative, Inc. (WEDI) to improve the quality of life for the residents of Buffalo’s West Side in 2006. WEDI's mission is to empower economically-disadvantaged people who live and/or work in Buffalo's west side community. WEDI's vision is a vibrant, stable and inviting community. WEDI believes that empowered people can change their community. WEDI reduces barriers to success and opportunity.WEDI understands the struggle of starting a new business, particularly in the retail, foodservice, and service industries. To reduce the barrier to starting a business, WEDI offers commercial retail space through its business incubator that includes a shared commercial kitchen, opportunities for low-cost kitchen build-outs, and office and retail space. Up to 21 businesses operate out of the West Side Bazaar, and the space has attracted national and international media, including being on NPR's Morning Edition and PassBlue: Covering the UN.
About USCM:The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.