Throughout the history of our city, Rochester’s entrepreneurs and small business owners have brought a constant stream of new ideas and innovative services to our neighborhoods. However, structural and overt racism in our economy has historically denied large parts of our community – women and people of color in particular - the same opportunities to prosper as others. Today, the lasting effects of discrimination, lack of service coordination, and complicated processes inhibit many promising entrepreneurs from making their vision of business ownership a reality. Rochester is at a turning point in its history – our economy is shifting and once again growing, and it is essential that we seize the opportunity to break down historical barriers and create an equitable and inclusive economy.
As part of this effort, the City of Rochester is participating in the Living Cities and Citi Foundation’s City Accelerator for Local Job Creation and Business Growth. This project was described in greater detail here, in a previous blog post. The Rochester City Accelerator has several distinct goals, but focuses primarily on supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs as they seek to create and grow businesses, with special emphasis on businesses owned by people of color. Some specific examples of project strategies include creating a Business and Community Services Center that will host workshops and counseling sessions for businesses and entrepreneurs, hosted by area non-profit organizations; building a robust network of entrepreneurship and business service providers connected by state-of-the-art software; creation of a digital portal for individual business owners and entrepreneurs to access information about services, regulatory requirements of starting a business, and more; and an examination of City policies and procedures to determine how we can better serve our business community.
To ensure to that the City Accelerator project is successful, inclusive and equitable, we have developed a Small Business Support Survey that will gather information from the business community. From now until December 14th, Rochester small business owners and entrepreneurs are invited to share their experiences, information about their business, and how they perceive our local business support system. The results of this study will serve as the backbone of the entire project, guiding decision-making throughout our year of engagement with the City Accelerator and into the future. It is essential that the voice of the customer be represented as we work to create a more just economy – if you, or someone you know, is a business owner or entrepreneur, we encourage you to take the survey online at bit.ly/RocSmallBiz.
We believe that there is no more important aspect to program development than community engagement. Without taking into account the authentic voice, needs, and opinions of those whom we intend to serve, we will always fail to bring about organic and sustainable change.
To take the survey, visit: http://bit.ly/RocSmallBiz
Para hacerlo en español, visita: Encuesta de Apoyo