Mayor Brown has been sending signals loud and clear that immigrants and refugees are welcome in Buffalo. That’s why it’s no surprise that he proclaimed today, March 21, as Conference of Mayor’s National Day of Immigration in Buffalo. By doing so, Mayor Brown is not only acknowledging all of the a accomplishments that immigrants have made that benefit Buffalo, he’s also forecasting all of the great things to come.
As part of the announcement, Mayor Brown recognized the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) – a program that has helped to supply refugees and immigrants with the tools that they need to be productive in Buffalo. He also nominated WEDI’s West Side Bazaar Expansion Initiative for the 2017 Wells Fargo and USCM CommunityWINS Grant Program. This is great news for the West Side, for refugees and immigrants, and all of Buffalo. According to those at the West Side Bazaar, a new Latino restaurant called Kiosko Latino will soon be opening, serving Puerto Rican Cuisine.
“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 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,” said WEDI Executive Director Ben Bissell, who noted that the funds would be dedicated to business training, technical assistance, micro-loans and possibly added retail space to house more businesses. Now that would be a significant boost to the bazaar’s vision.
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.
“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.
The Office of New Americans will assist in the process, through community outreach into immigrant and refugee communities. Members of those communities will be tuned into the efforts being made and the opportunities at hand.
“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 Americans
*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.