What’s new with Westchester’s economic development initiatives?
Jhe Westchester County Office of Economic Development entered 2022 confident that the programs in place would help support existing businesses operating in the county, attract new businesses to priority areas in the region and continue to stimulate the economy. .
At mid-year, the Office is pleased with the success these programs have had so far and looks forward to expanding them where possible and exploring new opportunities to support businesses, non-profit organizations lucrative and entrepreneurs of the county.
Launching new business ventures
The application process for this year’s Launch1000 cohort began in February. An innovative all-remote program designed to turn concepts and ideas into business plans and startups, Launch1000 was born out of the global pandemic and empowers Westchester residents to gain essential business knowledge, connect with mentors and to help their ideas gain traction. Hundreds of people applied and pitchers started the program in early May.
In 2021, 218 residents have completed the program and launched a diverse range of small businesses and nonprofits. Each graduate received a $2,500 scholarship for completing the program. Of those pitchers, nearly three-quarters qualified to receive an additional $2,500 grant for achieving key milestones to advance their business growth. This grant represents a $940,000 investment from the Office of Economic Development to help new businesses and nonprofits get started and grow.
New to the program this year was the addition of a bilingual (English/Spanish) cohort in which participants are supported by bilingual coaches and mentors. There will be workshops only for the bilingual cohort, as well as workshops combining English-only pitchers and bilingual pitchers.
Additionally, the Office of Economic Development partners with the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation and the Acceleration Project (TAP) to support Launch1000 graduates with ongoing workshops, small focus groups, and counseling sessions.
The future of Westchester
In January, the Westchester County Biosciences Accelerator announced a third cohort, consisting of 12 emerging bioscience companies invited to participate. The six-month program included entrepreneurship training, coaching and mentoring to develop bankable business plans and expand the bioscience community in Westchester. The county is home to the largest bioscience cluster in New York State, with more than 8,000 jobs, representing more than 20% of the state’s total bioscience employment.
Companies that participated in WCBA’s third cohort were supported by an experienced entrepreneur coach and received personalized business networking introductions to business professionals to help them move their early-stage businesses forward. The program ended with a presentation day which took place in May.
Helping post-Covid organizations
Earlier this year, the Office of Economic Development opened the application period for the 2022 Westchester County Business FIRST (Financial Investments for Recovery and a Sustainable Tomorrow) grant program. This year’s grant program has offered up to $17 million to support nonprofit and faith-based organizations facing challenges due to the Covid-19 crisis. Selected candidates will be announced in the coming weeks.
Westchester County Business FIRST is providing immediate financial assistance to Westchester County organizations that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. This round of funding will provide eligible nonprofit and religious organizations with grants of up to $45,000.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “Our nonprofit and faith-based organizations have been a vital resource to the communities they support throughout the pandemic. This series of grants is an investment in organizations that are essential to our residents and in need of financial assistance.
Improve employee skills
A big priority for the county this year is to provide skills training to employees in various sectors to help them continue to be successful.
Advanced manufacturing has been an essential part of Westchester’s business ecosystem for decades. As part of the county’s commitment to grow the industry and ensure businesses have access to skilled local talent, the Office of Economic Development has partnered with Westchester Community College to launch a manufacturing skills training program advanced earlier this year. The program puts people with little or no manufacturing experience on the path to a highly skilled, well-paying and in-demand career.
This is a great opportunity, especially for students not currently pursuing a college education, to develop the skills sought by Westchester’s advanced manufacturing companies. The program is still accepting applications. To further support this important sector, an advanced technology and manufacturing job fair was held in early June to help innovative Westchester manufacturing companies connect with new employees for many open positions.
Additionally, in partnership with the Westchester County Association, the Office of Economic Development has established the Healthcare Talent Pipeline program, which will train individuals to become clinical physician assistants, certified nurse assistants, or medical administrative assistants.
Successful applicants will earn a New York State-approved training credential, receive employment readiness training, and be connected to leading healthcare partners in Westchester County. Training will be provided by the Ossining Extension Center at Westchester Community College. For more information and to register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 813-6555.
Bridget Gibbons is Economic Development Director for Westchester County Executive George Latimer. In this role, she focuses on attracting and retaining business and talent in Westchester. For more information, visit westchestercatalyst.com.