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Bank of America awards Westminster Economic Development Initiative $250,000 grant to support capital campaign

by Stella Morgan

Grant to help expand small business incubator and community space on west side

The Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) has received a significant grant of $250,000 from Bank of America to support its ambitious $11.5 million capital campaign. The funding will be used to build a new West Side Bazaar at 1432 Niagara St., Buffalo. The press release highlights that this grant will help remove barriers for underserved entrepreneurs, particularly refugees and immigrants, as they endeavor to establish family-sustaining small businesses.

Since the West Side Bazaar location on Grant Street was closed due to a fire last September, anticipation has been building for its reopening. The new bazaar will offer space for 18 restaurant, retail, and professional service businesses. It will also provide test and rental kitchens for independent chefs, classrooms, event spaces, and two floors of seating for customers. The expansion is expected to create 36 jobs in the first year of operation and will enable more entrepreneurs from WEDI’s 125-person incubator waiting list to bring their business concepts to life.

WEDI Executive Director, Carolynn Welch, expressed her gratitude for the generous gift from Bank of America, stating that it has given them a strong foundation for success once the new bazaar opens. She believes that the new space on Niagara Street will become an anchor and destination, demonstrating that all residents of Western New York can succeed and thrive in a culturally inclusive community. Welch also acknowledges the collaboration with Bank of America and other generous funders in creating a space that tells a story of growth and optimism for the region.

The West Side Bazaar has been operating as a unique small business incubator since its establishment in 2011. The incubator provides low-income new business owners with loans, mentorship, and technical assistance to develop and launch their businesses. This grant from Bank of America is a part of the company’s commitment to strengthening the west side community by addressing fundamental issues related to economic opportunity and social progress. The capital investment will support entrepreneurs and small business owners from communities of color, as well as immigrants and refugees who often face historical barriers to accessing vital resources and capital.

Ted Janicki, Bank of America Buffalo-Niagara President, emphasized the company’s dedication to building a stronger and more equitable Buffalo by investing in local entrepreneurs and small businesses. The capital investment in WEDI’s West Side Bazaar expansion aims to develop key pathways to economic mobility for underserved entrepreneurs while strengthening local businesses. Janicki looks forward to witnessing the impact of this expansion on the greater west side community as the bazaar and its occupants continue to grow and evolve.

The eagerly anticipated West Side Bazaar will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 16, with the public opening to follow on October 17. The bazaar’s reopening will mark a significant milestone for the west side community, offering new opportunities for entrepreneurs and fostering economic development in the area.

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