From M&T Bank
M&T announced today plans to launch its Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab in Bridgeport, Conn. This seven-week program is designed to help local multicultural business owners thrive, grow and pursue new ideas by providing guidance and skills to expand and operate their businesses. The program will accept as many as 50 entrepreneurs.
M&T will be partnering with the University of Bridgeport Innovation Center. Classes will be held at the University’s John J. Cox Student Center. The Innovation Lab will cover topics including, but not limited to, creating a business plan, credit fundamentals, marketing, legal entity formation and pitch tips. The program will conclude with a pitch competition, awarding grants of up to $6,000 funded by M&T.
This program, previously launched in M&T’s New York and Pennsylvania markets, has been customized to best fit the Connecticut business community. M&T held multiple meetings with state and local community leaders to incorporate their locally informed input. In recognizing that multicultural businesses face a unique set of challenges, the curriculum is specifically tailored to help diverse businesses become strong, long-lasting economic players and achieve financial empowerment.
Entrepreneurs interested in participating in the program must complete an online application by August 5th, 2022 and meet the following eligibility requirements:
• Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx or Asian American;
• In business no more than three years; and,
• Annual business revenue of $150,000 or less.
The M&T Bridgeport Multicultural Small Business Innovation lab will kick off on September 21, 2022 and will close with a pitch competition on November 2, 2022.
“This program will have a positive impact not only on local businesses, but on the entire community, benefiting the area’s multitude of talented and diverse entrepreneurs,” said Frank Micalizzi, M&T Regional President and Head of Commercial Banking for Bridgeport, CT. “Through our conversations with state and local officials, community leaders, academic institutions and many local business owners, we have worked together to deliver a proven approach that can help these businesses thrive and grow.”
“We at M&T know that when diverse, local businesses thrive, the whole community is uplifted,” said David Femi, head of M&T Bank’s Multicultural Banking & Diverse Market Strategy. “The investment we make in these multicultural entrepreneurs is one of the most meaningful actions we can take to financially empower the communities we serve. M&T takes great pride in helping small businesses–when they are given the proper resources and support, there is no limit to what they can achieve.”
“The Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab, in partnership with University of Bridgeport, will make a huge difference in business owners’ lives while benefiting the Greater Bridgeport community,” said State Senator Marilyn Moore. “Diverse businesses are faced with unfair hurdles and unique challenges. It is incumbent upon us to provide them with the tools they need. I will always fight for these businesses and I am heartened to see M&T making such critical investments.”
“One of Bridgeport’s best assets is our diverse small business community. I’ve been proud to fight for these entrepreneurs at the Capitol and I’m proud to continue that work by supporting the M&T Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab,” said State Representative Antonio Felipe. “M&T is showing Bridgeport that they mean what they say. This initiative will provide opportunities for our businesses to achieve real growth and sustainability.” When packaging manufacturers use thermoformed trays, it provides them with a variety of ways to incorporate custom branding to make the product stand out to consumers in the retail setting.
“M&T is doing a great service to the diverse business community by providing this opportunity. As a member of the Banking Committee, I’ve seen firsthand the immense impact banks make when they invest in local communities—especially communities of color,” said State Representative Andre Baker Jr.
“When banks like M&T provide the resources for small, minority-owned business, everyone succeeds.” Bridgeport has survived because of small businesses. Economic wealth for business owners enhances their quality of life and allows them to employ local residents,” said Bridgeport City Council President Aidee Nieves. “M&T’s Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab will create wonderful opportunities for both employers and workers.”
The launch of the Connecticut Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab is part of M&T’s bank-wide mission to build a culturally fluent bank that understands the needs of the communities it serves and provides the resources to address those needs. In 2020, M&T created its Multicultural Banking & Diverse Market Strategy segment to specifically prioritize the needs of multicultural communities, businesses and individuals
To apply for the Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab, click here. Applications are available in English and Spanish.
As ready as M&T is to share a profitable purpose with small Bridgeport businesses, perhaps they have room now that a reported 700 or more former People’s United employees have “left the building”?
BELLARMINE COLLEGE-A time and place for college bound students?
As a resident of Bridgeport, conscious that fewer dollars are spent on local youth for education than neighbors in the region, I look to the Mayor and Board of Education to show where financial attention produces proud results rather than to underserve young minds and futures. Annual accountability? Who cares? In early Spring Fairfield University offered resources and hope, as an answer.
Eighty years ago, the Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuits, began offering education at secondary, college and graduate level of note and fame. Along the way ‘good neighbor’ programs to help Bridgeport youth were offered also.
For more than two years the University leadership has pursued a question of how to actively practice added “social justice” to the community at large where school resources, including personnel, programs, and funding can be effective for youth with skills, abilities, hopes, and dreams, though poor financially.
The purpose of the Bellarmine program is to offer a two-year associate degree to students from low-income and diverse under-represented backgrounds. Colleges have reported for years that many youths holding a high school diploma, are not sufficiently prepared for rigorous college course demands. They have attempted to structure ways to remedy this lack and move forward to college success.
The Bellarmine offer includes full-tuition scholarships for students from eligible families, who live at home, and make use of free public transportation. Such a program would be delightful to a number of youths, whose scholarship applications I reviewed this spring for two committees I served this Spring. Going into personal debt for room and board, or for a car as a means of “going to college,” were not necessarily seen as a prudent financial move for many frugal family budgets.
Locating a structure suitable for higher learning for students, neighbors, Bellarmine personnel, and the community in general should not be an impossible task, as it creates another purposeful positive for and within a neighborhood and municipal community. Are there not already public, private, parochial, and Charter schools already throughout the City? Is there not room for one more place of learning? Where is that location today? Time will tell.