The City of Rochester Enhances Services for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs, Connecting Them to Financial Counseling


City of Rochester

News Release

The City of Rochester Enhances Services for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs, Connecting Them to Financial Counseling

With Support from Principal® Foundation and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund,

the City of Rochester Launches a New Small Business Boost Initiative to Support Small Business Owners

(March 22, 2022)—Mayor Malik D. Evans and the national nonprofit Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) today announced the launching of Small Business Boost, a new pilot program to connect small business owners and entrepreneurs to one-on-one Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) counseling.

“The Small Business Boost initiative demonstrates how partnerships can help build economic self-reliance, provide financial resources and enhance the quality of life for Rochester’s citizens,” said Mayor Evans. “We are pleased to partner with this citizen-centered initiative to educate and position our entrepreneurs to increase their business capital through the Small Business Boost. We want to keep up this momentum for current and future generations of business owners and entrepreneurs to build a more robust and equitable Rochester.”

Through the Small Business Boost pilot, Rochester FEC counselors will support business owners and entrepreneurs in addressing personal financial challenges that present barriers to success in building wealth through business ownership. In addition, Rochester FEC counselors will receive effective training on the relationship between personal finance and business growth, navigating entrepreneurial ecosystems, and driving business outcomes through improving personal finances.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in learning more about FEC financial counseling can visit rochesterfec.org/services. For appointment scheduling, call the Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester at 585-252-7110 or visit rochesterfec.org/appointments.

The CFE Fund received a $1 million grant from Principal® Foundation to pilot Small Business Boost and worked with Rochester and other Financial Empowerment Center partners to connect local entrepreneurship and small business support services with FEC financial counseling. A financial counselor will be available weekly at the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and remotely for all business owners and entrepreneurs in Rochester. The Rochester Financial Empowerment Center launched in February 2020. These last two years have helped over 1,700 residents, business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs reduce debt by $1.2 million and build savings by almost $1.3 million.

The City of Rochester joins Akron, Ohio; Lansing, Mich.; Pittsburgh, Penn.; and Polk County, Iowa to connect local small businesses to this free public support service. While starting a small business can be a promising pathway to financial stability, entrepreneurs often begin this path with existing financial challenges, adding to their inability to access capital to start or grow their small businesses. This can lead to inadequate savings to manage irregular cash flow.

While it is illegal to deny credit based on race or ethnicity, national data reveal that lower access to capital for Black-and Latinx-owned businesses makes it challenging to create and sustain business operations. According to a 2015 report by the Empire Justice Center, 15,648 small business loans totaling $790.2 million were approved for businesses in the Rochester metro area. Of these loans, 17% were in the city of Rochester, and 9% were approved for businesses in most non-white census tracts.

“Running a small business can be a critical driver of opportunity, helping entrepreneurs build financial stability and wealth for themselves, their families, and their communities – but for too many people, their finances are a barrier to making a solid start,” said Jonathan Mintz, President, and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “We’re thrilled to partner with Mayor Evans and Principal® Foundation on Small Business Boost, which will help entrepreneurs manage their finances so they can better access capital and generate wealth, and share lessons learned from this pilot so that local governments across the country can build strong and inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems.”

“Principal® Foundation is committed to advancing financial security. Notwithstanding the tremendous losses they suffered due to the pandemic, small businesses are still the engines for local growth and the pathway to financial security for many Americans. Thus, we are thrilled to support the work of CFE Fund and its Financial Empowerment Center partners to remove barriers and expand opportunities for entrepreneurs to launch businesses that meet community needs, improve local economies, and strengthen local communities,” said Jo Christine Miles, director, Principal Foundation and community relations.

At the Financial Empowerment Centers, professionally trained FEC counselors help consumers with low and moderate incomes manage their finances, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit, and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products. The CFE Fund’s national FEC Public platform looks to grow this movement across the country, including through the newly expanded FEC Academy entry point.

The City of Rochester administration of Mayor Malik D. Evans is committed to promoting positive systemic and structural change by providing transparent and collaborative leadership, offering equitable access to essential municipal services, enabling productive intergovernmental, private, and non-profit partnerships, and promoting increased quality of life through investments that create vibrant neighborhoods and employment opportunities, making Rochester a hope-filled city with an exciting future. For more information, visit www.cityofrochester.gov

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News Media: For more information, contact Director of Communications Barbara Pierce at Barbara.Pierce@CityofRochester.Gov.

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