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Empire State Development Announces Round 3 of Small Business Grants in East Buffalo

$5,000 to $50,000 Grants Will Be Available on March 15 for Small Businesses in Designated Area of East Buffalo 

Round 3 will Feature Expanded Geographic Boundaries and Additional Technical Assistance

Builds on State’s Ongoing Recovery Efforts Following 2022 Tops Supermarket Attack

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that applications for Round 3 of the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program are available from March 15 to May 10, 2024. The $3 million program provides grants of $5,000 to $50,000 to eligible small businesses in a designated area of East Buffalo to help largely minority-owned establishments rebound from the social and economic impacts of the mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue in 2022.  In the previous 2 rounds of funding, nearly 70 businesses and counting have been recipients of more than $800,000 in grant funds from the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program. 

“Empire State Development is committed to supporting East Buffalo businesses with the operational help they need to grow, and building on the success of the initial two rounds of our grant program, this new round provides even more targeted help to where it will have the greatest impact,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight.  “I encourage business owners to take advantage of an expanded eligibility map and added technical assistance to apply for the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program. Through this program and others, New York State affirms its strong partnership with these predominantly minority-owned enterprises as they continue to serve the community.”

“The East Buffalo community was shaken to its core following the devastating mass shooting at Tops, and we’re proud to work with our partners at Empire State Development to help connect neighboring small businesses with resources to help them recover from the impacts,” said Valerie White, Senior Executive Director, LISC NY.  “This targeted support, which is now expanding to a wider geographic footprint, will help ensure these primarily minority-owned businesses are able continue to support their community as we work hard to grow our investments in this historically underserved area and, ultimately, close the racial wealth gap.” 

Round 2 expanded the applications and eligibility by expanding the program’s geographic boundaries to the Beltway. Round 3 will broaden applications and eligibility further by expanding the program’s geographic boundaries to much of East Buffalo.  

Program partners, including the Exchange at Beverly Gray and The Foundry, will also offer additional technical assistance on program applications to small businesses applying to the program.  The Local Initiatives Support Corporation - New York (LISC NYC) is administering the program on behalf of Empire State Development. Eligible businesses can submit pre-applications here. For more information on the program, including eligibility and FAQs, click here.

Round 3 – Expanded Program Boundaries and Grant Application Assistance

The expanded East Buffalo Round 3 program area is bounded by the following streets/highways: 

  • Main Street (properties fronting on both sides) south to North Street
  • North Street (properties fronting on south side) east to Michigan Ave
  • Michigan Avenue (properties fronting on east side) south to I-190
  • I-190 east to the Northfolk-Southern RR overpass and the Buffalo River
  • Buffalo River east to the City of Buffalo border
  • City of Buffalo border north to Main Street (excluding the University at Buffalo South Campus)

See map of eligible area here. Grants will be made available based upon an eligible businesses’ documented gross annual sales. Nonprofit organizations are ineligible organizations.

Two of LISC’s partner organizations, The Exchange at Beverly Gray and The Foundry, are providing on-the-ground application assistance to business owners in need. If businesses need assistance scanning documents, accessing a computer, or filling out program application paperwork, they can visit The Exchange or The Foundry during their grant application assistance office hours:

  • The Exchange at Beverly Gray
    334 E. Utica Street, Buffalo, NY 14208
    Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
    Thursdays 1-4 p.m.
  • The Foundry
    298 Northampton Street, Buffalo, NY 14208
    Mondays & Wednesdays, 3 – 6 p.m.

If needed, translation services for the application will also be available through the International Institute.

An East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program Round 3 public information session, called the East Buffalo Business Bash, will take place in-person on Thursday, March 21 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Foundry, located at 298 Northampton Street. Technical assistance support and computers will be available to complete the applications. For more information on the session and registration click here

The Foundry Executive Director Megan McNally said, “As a resident of 14208 and Executive Director of The Foundry, May 14th shook our neighborhood to the core. To see how our small businesses responded in an effort to help heal just solidifies that they are the heart and soul of our east side community. They're mothers, fathers, cousins, friends that build up our neighborhoods and look out for us all. The Foundry is excited to see eligibility expand with Round 3 of this grant program. The difference $5,000-$50,000 can make for our small businesses is not to be underestimated, and we are proud to be part of this program, assisting entrepreneurs that need access to capital, mentorship and additional resources so they can thrive and build generational wealth. Our doors are always open and welcoming - let's ensure everyone who is eligible can get the assistance they need to apply!”

The Exchange at Beverly Gray Executive Director Derrick Parson said, “As the Executive Director of The Exchange at Beverly Gray, I am excited for the opening up of Round 3 of the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program, now with an expanded geographical footprint. This support, ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to eligible small businesses in East Buffalo, helps these business owners by providing targeted financial assistance. This program bolsters individual enterprises and fosters resilience and revitalization within our community, driving equitable economic growth for all.  We are happy to continue this initiative.”

The program stems from Governor Hochul’s June 2022 pledge of $50 million in East Buffalo community investments in housing, business and other relief, following the May 14, 2022 Tops Supermarket attack in the Jefferson Avenue Business District in East Buffalo.  Other investments stemming from this announcement include a significant community-led food access initiative involving assistance to a new African Heritage Food Co-op project; small business facade/capital assistance programs in East Buffalo business districts; support for job training efforts such as Goodwill’s new Goodskills Career Builder office on Jefferson Avenue; and tens of millions for foreclosure prevention, home repair assistance, and access to capital for first-time home buyers.

All these are in addition to Governor Hochul’s East Buffalo commitments under the Regional Revitalization Partnership, announced with local philanthropic partners and the City of Buffalo.  providing a combined investment of $180 million in East Buffalo for small business support and key projects. Those projects include revitalization of the Broadway Market and restoration of iconic historic resources like the Buffalo Central Terminal, the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, and MLK Park.

LISC NYC was established in 1980 and is the New York chapter of a national, not-for-profit organization that equips underinvested communities with the capital, strategy, and know-how to create more equitable, inclusive and sustainable communities.

State Senator Tim Kennedy said, “With the third round of funding now open for the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program, and with expanded geographic boundaries, I encourage eligible business owners to apply.  The fund supports predominately minority-owned enterprises that enrich our community and help them recover from the tragic events of 5/14.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “I applaud Empire State Development and LISC for kicking off the 3rd round of funding for East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program that was created in a response to the Tops 5/14 tragedy. The expansion of geographic boundaries will allow even more small businesses from Buffalo’s Eastside to take advantage of this program which focuses on building solid foundations for sustainable growth, success, and the creation of wealth. I implore interested owners to attend the public information session and technical assistance workshops to learn how the program can benefit your business and neighborhood.”

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “Much of the impact from the 5/14 Racially-Motivated Mass Shooting at the Jefferson Avenue Tops was centered in the East Buffalo community. And so, helping these businesses and the East Buffalo economy recover is a major priority.  ESD’s grant program compliments my administration’s continued investment in businesses both in East Buffalo and throughout the city. I thank Governor Kathy Hochul for her continued dedication to the residents in East Buffalo.”

Buffalo Common Council Member Mitch Nowakowski (Fillmore District) said, “The announcement of Round 3 grants isn’t just about dollars and cents; it's about reaffirming the unwavering support for the small businesses that form the backbone of our community.  It’s about providing more small businesses in East Buffalo with the tools they need to not just survive, but thrive, ensuring that no business is left behind in our pursuit of a more prosperous and inclusive East Buffalo. I encourage business owners to take advantage of the expanded eligibility map and I want to thank Empire State Development and Governor Hochul for their commitment to fostering economic growth and equity.”

Buffalo Common Council Member Zeneta B. Everhart (Masten District) said, “In the ongoing recovery efforts following the 2022 Tops Supermarket attack, the next round of grants aren't just about providing assistance; they're about fostering a sense of hope, resilience, and community pride.  They're about empowering even more small businesses in the East Side of Buffalo to not only survive, but to thrive in the face of adversity. I want to thank Governor Hochul and Empire State Development for the geographical expansion of the program and ensuring that every eligible business has the support they need to succeed, because when our businesses thrive, our communities thrive.”


LISC NY is the New York office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). LISC NY supports local partners across New York State whose services and programs aim to create a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable New York.  Since 1980, LISC NY has invested over $3.1 billion and leveraged an additional $7.6 billion in support of low-income communities. LISC NY’s investment strategy is guided by a belief that the time has come to forge a future for New York that eradicates the racial wealth gap for good, protects affordable housing, and builds pathways of meaningful economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.

For more information about LISC NY and their programs and advocacy, visit here.

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NY” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

Pamm Lent | [email protected] (716) 846-8309 | (716) 560-8815
Laura Magee |[email protected] | (716) 846-8239 | (716) 374-4246