submitted by the GNB Workforce Investment Board

On February 12, 2018, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash announced Urban Agenda grants for projects across Massachusetts. Included in these awards was a multi-partner effort to help enhance resources for New Bedford women to start and grow their businesses.

WEB New Bedford (the WomEntrepreneurship and Business New Bedford) aligns with the New Bedford 2020 Master Plan as a comprehensive strategy for economic development through business assistance and access to seed funds. The project will recruit 8 participants with a focus on women and minorities living in New Bedford who are interested in starting or have started a business and need assistance growing. Activities include Bristol Community College entrepreneurship courses and support from twelve partners including the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, New Bedford Economic Development Council, Immigrant’s Assistance Center, PACE YouthBuild, United Way of Greater New Bedford, GNB Career Center, EForAll, BCC, CEDC, Groundwork!, and SouthCoast Chamber.

The vision of WEB New Bedford is to capitalize on and aggregate the available local resources and seed funding for long term catalytic growth for women-owned businesses in New Bedford. The goal is to help women start and grow businesses in New Bedford.

A goal of this project is to continue to help start and to grow the number of women owned small businesses in New Bedford and its neighborhoods. The economic benefits from and the number of women owned businesses nationally have continued to increase at higher rates than the national average of entrepreneurial small business firms, with approximately 11.3 million employing nearly 9 million people and fueling the economy with $1.6 trillion of revenues (Source: American Express State of Women Owned Businesses in 2016). WEB New Bedford seeks to capitalize on the national trend and encourage and foster a positive atmosphere for women-owned businesses in New Bedford.

WEB New Bedford will be offered to all women entrepreneurs and/or small business owners in New Bedford. A required pitch at the application phase will assist the team with identifying either potential or current business owners who meet the criteria and would benefit from the project. Participants who successfully complete the eligibility and program requirements may be eligible to receive up to $2,000 in seed funding for their business.

More information on the program including enrollment will be available in March 2018 by visiting the GNBWIB website gnbwib.org/webnewbedford. The program will officially kick off at the SouthCoast Chamber Women’s Forum in May. This project is funded through the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) Urban Agenda program.