Washington, D.C. – At the urging of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA) is investing $488,000 into the Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC) to open a satellite office at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. The federal investment comes after Senator Gillibrand joined with local officials and business owners calling for greater support for minority and women-owned businesses by promoting economic self-sufficiency through entrepreneurial training programs, including access to capital, mentoring, networking opportunities, training and technical assistance.
The EDA funding comes through the agency’s disaster relief funding opportunity that specifically targets communities that suffered damage from last year’s Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, offering investment for the development of a long-term strategy to help more local businesses withstand setbacks like natural disasters, among other needs.
“This is an incredibly important investment to attract new businesses and jumpstart economic development in Hudson Valley communities that are struggling to recover from natural disasters,” said Senator Gillibrand, who advocated for this funding in October at OXYVITA in New Windsor. “We need to do more than just get back to where we were before these storms. We need a long-term strategy to strengthen our economy, open more businesses and create more jobs so the Hudson Valley can thrive for years to come. This targeted investment can help us – by equipping more entrepreneurs with the resources they need to turn their good ideas into growing businesses.”
“For more than 15 years, WEDC has been providing valuable programs and services to entrepreneurs, both men and women, at all stages of business development,” said WEDC Executive Director Anne Janiak. “Our primary focus has been in Westchester County and we now are eager to set up a Mid-Hudson Valley satellite office at Marist College where we can reach the growing number of small business owners in that area to help them grow successful enterprises. We thank Senator Gillibrand and her staff for their support to help us secure this grant and for their support of our mission to empower entrepreneurs and strengthen our economy throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley.”
“The WEDC Satellite will offer unique business and technical resources to Hudson Valley business owners and entrepreneurs of all levels of experience and across all industries. The Satellite will create a supportive infrastructure that will harness the power of small businesses as job creators by enabling them to successfully face the challenges presented by the economy of the 21st. century as well as the hardships of natural disasters. We appreciate the steadfast support of Senator Gillibrand and her staff on this project,” said Lea Bishop, Acting Director, Women’s Enterprise Development Center Mid-Hudson Valley Satellite.
“Marist College is very excited that the WEDC is being funded and will be coming to the new Hancock Center at Marist College. We feel very confident that the work of the WEDC will greatly complement the work being done at Marist College with SMBs throughout New York State, especially with the work of the Cloud Computing and Analytics Center at Marist. We thank Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for her help in obtaining this funding,” said Dr. Roger L. Norton, Dean, School of Computer Science & Mathematics, Marist College.
After Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee devastated communities across New York, Senator Gillibrand spent time touring damaged farms, business districts and communities, hearing from everyday families and business leaders, fighting to secure every federal resource to aid in the recovery. This federal investment will help put Hudson Valley communities on a path to a strong economic future by targeting the creation of new businesses. The funding will also help expand businesses, and connect them to new markets and better opportunities to thrive.
The WEDC entrepreneurial training programs for minority and women-owned businesses will strengthen businesses by creating jobs, helping strengthen existing businesses and helping rebuild the Hudson Valley economy in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. These programs work to prevent future setbacks by promoting the notion of long-term growth over economic survival, which can help stabilize the Hudson Valley’s economy. The WEDC satellite will help both new entrepreneurs and existing business owners across all disciplines to become more resilient and move more quickly beyond these negative challenges by offering them opportunities to:
- Strengthen and enhance their business skills through a broad range of successful, ‘shovel-ready’ business programs and services as well as access to microloan funding and the most current information on government small businesses programs.
- Gain unprecedented access to the most advanced computer software available at the Hancock Center, thereby enabling clients to become ‘technologically resilient’, i.e., capable of adjusting to the growing importance of technical skills required by the successful 21st century business owner.
- Participate in the growing IT cluster in the district through the WEDC Satellite’s ability to attract and nurture small IT companies with access to the resources of the Hancock Center and its incubation program.
The new WEDC satellite center at Marist College plans to offer dislocated workers — unemployed due either to natural disasters or a challenging economy — viable economic livelihoods as entrepreneurs. It will energize all entrepreneurs to strategically and smartly take their businesses to the next level of long-term growth and sustainability – helping to make their businesses more resilient to consequences of unforeseen obstacles.
The WEDC provides entrepreneurs with the skills, tools and resources they need to start their own businesses, to expand them and to achieve economic self-sufficiency. WEDC offers a wide array of entrepreneurial training programs and services, including one-on-one counseling, access to capital, networking events and small business seminars. WEDC is the designated women’s business center of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for Westchester County and the lower Hudson Valley. WEDC is also the NY Empire State Development Corporation’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP) Center for Westchester County.
The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s March letter of support is attached.