Home Economic Development What’s new with Westchester’s economic development initiatives?

What’s new with Westchester’s economic development initiatives?

The Westchester County Office of Economic Development came into 2022 confident that the programs in place would help support existing businesses operating in the county, attract new businesses in priority sectors to the region and continue to spur the economy.

Halfway through the year, the Office is pleased with the success that these programs have seen thus far and is looking forward to expanding these programs where possible and exploring new opportunities to support the county’s businesses, nonprofits and entrepreneurs.

Launching New Business Ventures

The application process for this year’s Launch1000 cohort began in February. An innovative, fully remote program designed to turn concepts and ideas into business plans and startups, Launch1000 was born out of the global pandemic and allows Westchester residents the opportunity to gain critical business knowledge, connect with mentors and help their ideas gain traction. Hundreds of people applied, and Launchers began the program in early May.

In 2021, 218 residents completed the program and launched a diverse range of small businesses and nonprofits. Each graduate earned a $2,500 grant for completing the program. Of those Launchers, nearly three-quarters qualified to receive an additional $2,500 grant for achieving key milestones for advancing the growth of their venture. This grant funding represents a $940,000 investment from the Office of Economic Development in helping new businesses and nonprofits to launch and scale.

New to the program this year was the addition of a dual language cohort (English/Spanish) wherein participants are supported by bilingual coaches and mentors. There will be workshops just for the Dual Language cohort, as well as workshops combining the English-only and the bilingual Launchers.

In addition, the Office of Economic Development is partnering with the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation and The Acceleration Project (TAP) to support Launch1000 graduates with ongoing workshops, small sounding board groups and advisory sessions.

The Future of Westchester’s 

Biosciences Ecosystem

In January, the Westchester County Biosciences Accelerator announced a third cohort, which consisted of 12 emerging biosciences ventures that were invited to participate. The six month-long program featured entrepreneurship education, coaching and mentoring to develop fundable business plans and expand the Biosciences community in Westchester. The county is home to the largest biosciences cluster in New York state, with more than 8,000 jobs, representing more than 20% of the state’s total biosciences employment.

Ventures that participated in the WCBA’s third cohort were supported by an experienced entrepreneur coach and received customized business networking introductions to business professionals to help advance their early-stage ventures. The program culminated in a pitch day which took place in May.

Helping Organizations Post-Covid

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 offered up to $17 million to support nonprofits and religious organizations facing challenges as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Chosen applicants will be announced in the coming weeks.

Westchester County Business FIRST provides immediate financial relief to organizations in Westchester County that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. This round of funding will provide qualifying nonprofits and religious organizations with grants of up to $45,000.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “Our nonprofits and religious organizations have been a vital resource to the communities they support throughout the duration of the pandemic. This round of grant funding is an investment in organizations that are critical to our residents and in need of financial relief.”

Enhancing Employees’ Skills

A large focus for the county this year is providing skills training for employees in various sectors to help them continue to succeed.

Advanced manufacturing has been a staple in the Westchester business ecosystem for decades. As part of the county’s commitment to growing the industry and ensuring companies have access to qualified local talent, the Office of Economic Development partnered with Westchester Community College to launch an Advanced Manufacturing Career Training Program earlier this year. The program puts individuals with little or no prior manufacturing experience on the path to a highly skilled, well-paying and in-demand career.

This is a great opportunity in particular for students who are not pursuing a college degree at this time to build the skills that Westchester’s advanced manufacturing companies are looking for. The program is still accepting applications. To further support this important sector, a Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Job Fair was held in early June to help Westchester’s innovative manufacturing companies connect with new employees for numerous open positions.

In addition, 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 a Clinical Medical Assistant, Certified Nursing Assistant or Medical Administrative Assistant.

Successful candidates will earn a New York state-approved training credential, receive job readiness training and be connected to leading health care partners in Westchester County. Training will be provided by the Westchester Community College’s Ossining Extension Center. For more information and to register, contact ossining@sunywcc.edu or (914) 813-6555.

Bridget Gibbons serves as Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s Director of Economic Development. In this role, she is focused on attracting and retaining businesses and talent in Westchester. For more information, visit westchestercatalyst.com.

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