M&T Bank Launches Small Business Innovation Lab
M&T Bank, in partnership with the University of Bridgeport, is launching a seven-week Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab for up to 50 entrepreneurs.
The program, which will also offer grants of up to $6,000, covers topics ranging from creating a business plan, to credit fundamentals, and legal entity formation to help empower entrepreneurs.
“This program will have a positive impact not only on local businesses, but on the entire community, benefitting the area’s multitude of talented and diverse entrepreneurs,” M&T Bank regional president and Bridgeport head of commercial banking Frank Micalizzi said.
“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.”
The program was welcomed by members of Bridgeport’s state legislative delegation and local elected officials.
State Sen. Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport) said the innovation lab “will make a huge difference in business owners’ lives while benefitting the Greater Bridgeport community.”
“Diverse businesses are faced with unfair hurdles and unique challenges,” she said. “I will always fight for these businesses and I am heartened to see M&T Bank making such critical investments.”
State Rep. Antonio Felipe (D-Bridgeport) described Bridgeport’s diverse small business community as one of the city’s “best assets.”
“M&T is showing Bridgeport that they mean what they say,” he said. “This initiative will provide opportunities for our businesses to achieve real growth and sustainability.”
Banking Committee member Rep. Andre Baker Jr. (D-Bridgeport) said he has “seen firsthand the immense impact banks make when they invest in local communities—especially communities of color.”
Bridgeport City Council President Aidee Nieves added that the lab “will create wonderful opportunities for both employers and workers.”
“Bridgeport has survived because of small businesses,” she said. “Economic wealth for business owners enhances their quality of life and allows them to employ local residents.”
M&T Bank has run similar programs in the New York and Pennsylvania markets with positive outcomes.
Bank officials said Connecticut’s curriculum will focus on helping diverse businesses become strong, long-lasting economic players.
African American, Hispanic, and Asian American business leaders are eligible for the program if they have been in business for no more than three years and have annual revenues less than $150,000.
Interested businesses can apply until Aug. 5, 2022.
The University of Bridgeport’s John J. Cox Student Center will house classes starting Sept. 21, 2022 and running through Nov. 2, 2022.
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