M&T Bank Awards Small Business Grants » CBIA

In a November 2 pitch contest in Bridgeport, M&T Bank awarded $15,000 in grants to four local small businesses.

Grant was part of M&T Bank’s eight-week Multicultural Small Business Lab, run in collaboration with the University of Bridgeport.

The curriculum originated in Buffalo, New York, and trains racially and ethnically diverse small businesses in topics ranging from business planning, marketing and branding, networking and pitching.

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It has expanded to five cities, and will be run again in Bridgeport in 2023.

The event ended on Wednesday with seven finalists presenting their company to a panel of judges, who awarded grants to four participants.

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foster relationships

Carmen Nieves—who raised a workforce and business development organization—said she wants her business to reach its full potential through the program.

“I want to grow my business,” she said. “I’ve always helped people find jobs, but I wanted to do it in a way that helped more businesses and made me feel good.”

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Nieves said each class was valuable, but the most important thing he found were the people at M&T Bank who believed in him and his peers.

“It’s about relationships,” she said.

“Relationships with individuals who trust you, who trust you to work with you, and know that you are going to do what you say you are going to do.

“And since M&T is here, they’ve really shown they’re putting their money where their mouth is.”

Although she didn’t win, Nieves said the lessons learned from M&T Bank’s program will be important going forward.

“This class has really helped me honor my message,” Nieves said. “I’ve changed the way I present my business in every class up to the pitch.”

‘Building Communities’

For Frank Michalizzi, regional president of M&T Bank Bridgeport, the lab is a continuation of M&T Bank’s support of small businesses.

“Small businesses are very important to our bank,” he said. “This is the beginning of building communities.”

Micalizzi said the program is one of several programs offered by M&T Bank for small businesses.

He highlighted the company’s M&T Spotlight Shop, which allows businesses to use a pop-up space in a popular area of ​​their community for a two-week segment.

“As far as the economy and employment are concerned, it really starts with small businesses.”

Frank Micalizzi of M&T Bank

“A lot of them are really hard working people who don’t always have the means to get through marketing and advertising,” he said.

“It’s been very successful to expose a small business customer and give them some exposure that sometimes they just don’t have the means to do so.”

Micalizzi said M&T Bank will continue to help small businesses through programs such as the Multicultural Small Business Lab.

“We think they are the economic engine for success,” he said.

“As far as the economy and employment are concerned, it really starts with small businesses.”


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