Westchester Launches Business FIRST Downtown Improvement Grant Program

Westchester Launches Business FIRST Downtown Improvement Grant Program
From left, Robert Walsh, JGSC Consultants; Joan McDonald, Westchester County Director of Operations; Bridget Gibbons, Westchester County Office of Economic Development Director; Shari Rosen Ascher, Westchester County Director of Policy & Programs; Emily Saltzman, Deputy Director of Operations; Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Deputy Westchester County Executive, Ken Jenkins.

WHITE PLAINS—Westchester County announced on Feb. 22 that the next phase of Westchester County Office of Economic Development’s Business FIRST (Financial Investments for Recovery and a Sustainable Tomorrow) program will focus on downtown improvement and stimulating economic revitalization at the local level. This Pilot Grant Program will help four municipalities reimagine and revitalize their downtown economic engine through a program consisting of professional consulting and up to $250,000 in implementation support.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “The Business FIRST Downtown Improvement Grant Program is part of our continued response to listening and responding to the needs of those who do business in Westchester. It will help ensure our businesses and the local communities they help build have the support and resources to remain vibrant and innovative as we look into the future. The key part of this grant is its tailored public-private approach to support each community selected.”

Municipalities that meet the new program criteria will be able to apply as of Feb. 22, 2023. Each grantee will receive strategic one-on-one support to help grow consumer foot traffic, retain existing businesses, recruit targeted-new businesses, provide training, and explore innovative new ways to strengthen and market their community through comprehensive analysis and a detailed action plan.

Westchester County Director of Operations and Chairperson of the County of Westchester Industrial Development Agency Joan McDonald said, “Revitalization and growth are core components of the work that we do. This Pilot Program is an important step towards rebuilding our local economies and we are proud to support our municipalities as they embark upon this critical—and often overwhelming—work.”

Westchester County Director of Economic Development Bridget Gibbons added, “Looking past the impact of COVID-19 on our downtowns, these are areas poised with opportunity for new growth and reinvigoration. We are pleased to offer a resource to support local municipalities as they undergo this process of revitalization.”

The Westchester County Business FIRST Downton Improvement Grant Pilot Program is being administered by the Westchester County Office of Economic Development. Communities that receive Community Development Block Grant funds directly from the federal government or have previously received a Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant from New York State are not eligible to participate in this Pilot Program.

Westchester County Director of Policy & Programs Small Business and Chambers of Commerce Shari Rosen Ascher said: “This is a groundbreaking and responsive program that’s designed to provide municipalities the tools and support to reimagine their local economies. JGSC Group—the partners with whom we are working on this project—have a track record of stimulating fiscal activity for communities throughout New York and New Jersey. We are excited to extend their expertise to our local communities.”

Principal of JGSC Consultants Joe Getz said, “We are pleased to be part of this opportunity to help smaller communities to rebuild their downtown commercial districts and to attract new shoppers and businesses to the area.”

Westchester County Business FIRST is a grant program designed to offer immediate financial relief to small businesses and nonprofits in Westchester County that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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