Mayor Michael A. Nutter recently announced that the City of Philadelphia, in partnership with The Empowerment Group, The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, and other community organizations, will launch an initiative within the Commerce Department to better support immigrant-owned businesses.
In August, the Department was awarded two AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer positions and selected individuals to support the African/Caribbean business community in Southwest/West and the Russian-speaking business community in the Northeast. Last February, the City launched InclusionWorks, a plan to build the number and capacity of small businesses owned by minorities and women.
“These two new employees will help further reduce the cultural and linguistic barriers facing immigrant entrepreneurs that may prevent them from accessing the services and resources necessary to start and operate a successful business,” said Mayor Nutter. “Small businesses and, in particular, immigrant-owned businesses have some of the highest job creation rates. Now more than ever, we need to support these businesses and their communities.”
“Earlier this year, the Office of Economic Opportunity released it Strategic Plan, Inclusion Works that outlines an aggressive agenda to support minority, women and disabled-owned businesses including immigrant-owned businesses. Today, I am excited to announce an additional effort the Department of Commerce is making to strengthen and grow this underserved group of businesses”, stated Kevin Dow, Commerce’s Chief Operating Officer.
These new employees will be with the City for the next year. They come from The Empowerment Group, which won 12 VISTA slots from the Corporation for National & Community Services.
These individuals will bolster the Department’s ongoing efforts to strengthen small businesses by encouraging them to compete both for city government contracts and contracts in the much larger regional economy. As part of this effort the Department has sent letters to many of the city’s 63,000 small business to inform them of what services the Commerce Department provides to help businesses grow.