New Mount Vernon and Iona College partnership to help minority- and women-owned businesses
Local minority- and women-owned businesses received big support Monday night with a new partnership between Mount Vernon and Iona College.
The Westchester Innovation Network, or WIN, kicked off as part of the business council of Westchester.
The program brings together Iona college students and faculty with Mount Vernon business leaders.
Mount Vernon businesses say the entrepreneurial process can be a challenging one, especially for those who are looking to get their foot in the door. That's why Mount Vernon is stepping in to make the city a top spot to start.
Being an entrepreneur is difficult enough, but starting up can be one of the biggest challenges.
"As a woman and as a Black woman, I get doors closed in my face and I get phones hung up on me and it's been happening for years," said Dr. Naeema Burgess, clinical psychology of Giving Hope LLC.
Many say it's an overwhelming process of policies bidding, contracts, among other setbacks and speed bumps.
"I jump through hoops," Burgess said, "So I go elsewhere. I'm driving out of state for proposals I have, for bids that I have."
Some say equity and access lacks for minority- and women-owned businesses at a time when the pandemic has many bootstrapping for resources. That's why the Westchester Innovation Network kicked off as part of the Business Council of Westchester.
Iona college students and faculty partner with Mount Vernon business leaders to expand communication and, ultimately, bridge the gap of an overloaded system of resources.
"As an entrepreneur, it's time: I don't have time to sit and chase bids or navigate what's going on," said Dwayne Brown, owner of DNK Events and Double Door Events. Brown hopes this partnership will fuel the future of local businesses.
"If someone can spend extra time and give me a bit of advice or give me a couple hours to look and research something, that's priceless," Brown added.
After hearing out challenges, students will now go to the drawing board to see how they can help.
"We're going to put it into key bullet points and that's how we're going to narrow it down to one big problem and from that one big problem we're going to see what we can do to solve that problem," said Iona College student Isaiah Williams.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for business and those looking to start one. Leaders hope this will now be a catalyst to support and encourage more to plant their roots in a city that wants to help.