Today, the Town of Babylon and the Babylon Industrial Development Agency (IDA), as part of the Babylon is Back Initiative, launched a program aimed at supporting and elevating MWBE entrepreneurs within the Town. The Economic Inclusion Initiative is an innovative program that provides financial, technical, and legal assistance to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs who reside or operate their businesses within the Town. A cornerstone of the effort is a Storefront Development Pilot Program, which seeks to improve occupancy rates in underutilized business districts while also providing small business owners with affordable space needed to advance their businesses.
“The Town of Babylon is one of the, if not the most, diverse towns on Long Island and it’s vitally important that our economic development programs reflect that,” said Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer. “When starting or expanding a business, there are so many roadblocks and hurdles to overcome. Who do you talk to? Where and how do you get the process started? This program’s goal is to provide answers to these business-related questions and ensure the support required for success is available for our MWBE entrepreneurs.”
The Storefront Development Pilot Program is already paying dividends for two local business owners. William Certain of Spin the Yard, a boutique store based in Huntington Station, is relocating his businesses to his hometown of Wyandanch, and taking advantage of the rent incentive program available at 1529 Straight Path Road. This location, in addition to having more affordable storefront options, is also going to be the home for creative entrepreneurs to learn more about developing and growing their business. In addition, Andrew Ayodeji of Mack Apparel leveraged the program’s offering to take his sports apparel business from the trunk of his car and into a commercial storefront in North Amityville.
“It’s been a dream of mine for many years to take my business out of the trunk of my car and into a proper space that provides me an official presence within our community. This program has turned this into a reality,” stated Andrew Ayodeji, Owner of Mack Apparel. “I’m thankful for the assistance and support provided by the Town that has allowed me to afford a storefront in my local community and provide me with the presence to elevate my business.”
“These success stories can be duplicated so many times over, we just need our local entrepreneurs to be aware that these resources are available to them and we are here to help in any way we can,” stated Babylon is Back Program Director Matthew McDonough. “Starting a business is an extremely daunting task, especially if you are unsure of all the technical aspects to setting one up. We want to remove that uncertainty and the financial hindrance it creates and quickly get our local minority- and women-owned businesses on the path for success and future growth.”
The Economic Inclusion Initiative is broken down into four focused buckets that provide:
· Storefront Development Pilot Program
o Supports minority entrepreneurs, fills storefronts in business districts, and builds equity
o Up to $25,000 in rent assistance
o Up to $25,000 in space improvements
o Eliminates red tape to expedite all town issues
· Financial Assistance
o Secure no-interest loans to small businesses and targeted grant programs
o Improves access to capital by creating supporting crowdfunding and micro-lending
· Training and Technical Assistance
o Oversee partnerships with foundations and universities to provide capacity building
o Provide student learning opportunities and skills training programs
o Provide technical assistance to address sales and profit deficiencies, closure rates, and other barriers to business growth
· MBWE/VETERAN Certification
o Provide assistance in acquiring necessary certification and bonding
o Promote partnerships between Town and minority consultants, contractors, and vendors
o Increases Access to RFP and bidding processes
To learn more about the program, or how to sign up to see if your business qualifies for additional resources and support, please visit babylonida.org.