The Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship and New York City Economic Development Corporation Announce Finalists of Competition THRIVE

Five Finalists Include Programs Designed to Solve Challenges Facing Immigrant Entrepreneurs Such as Access to Capital, Technological Assistance, and Business Skills Training

Competition Provides Seed Funding of $25,000 to Five Finalists and Grand Prize of $100,000 for Programs that Support Immigrant Entrepreneurs

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NEW YORK, NY- July 3, 2014 – The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College, in cooperation with the Western Union Foundation and the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, today announced the finalists of the third annual Competition To Help Reach Immigrant Ventures and Entrepreneurs (THRIVE). Competition THRIVE challenges community groups, businesses and other organizations from the public and private sectors to develop programs to assist immigrant entrepreneurs, who comprise 53 percent of all self-employed workers in the City, compared to 35 percent in New York State and only 21 percent in the United States. The competition invites proposals that address practical struggles faced by immigrant entrepreneurs in starting, operating and expanding their businesses in New York City, which commonly include access to credit, financial management, language barriers, and access to business networks. The five selected finalists will each receive $25,000 of seed funding to pilot their program for six months in communities across the city. After the pilot period, the judges will select the winning program to receive $100,000 to further implement its program.

“Supporting immigrant entrepreneurs is key to sustainably growing the City’s economy, and Competition THRIVE is designed to hone in on effective strategies to address the unique hurdles these businesses face across the boroughs,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “I look forward to seeing the progress the five finalists make in the coming months, equipping immigrant businesses with the tools they need to succeed in their communities and beyond.”  

The finalists have been selected by a panel of judges comprised of business, non-profit, and academic leaders, and representatives from New York City government, based on the utility, scalability and sustainability of their proposals.


The finalists and their programs are:  

Business Outreach Center Network: BOC Network will combine training and networking activities to support immigrant-owned construction businesses by creating a cohesive support system that will promote the concept of teaming to immigrant-owned businesses, providing necessary skills, and specialized support.

National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC): NCRC will blend bonding opportunities with technical assistance through the Bond Portal, a unique web application that will serve immigrant entrepreneurs by addressing two key components of growing their businesses: access to capital and local business connections.

Urban Justice Center/Street Vendor Project: The Street Vendor Academy will provide comprehensive training to build food-cart vendors compliance strategy, financial, technological, marketing and customer service skills.

South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation: The Bronx Restaurant Retailers Coop will represent immigrant restaurant owners who are willing to work together to centralize buying, delivery and storage operations to realize cost savings and provide healthier options to Bronx residents and visitors.

The Working World: The Worker Owned Rockaway Cooperatives project will maintain the strength of the existing cooperatives and support immigrant leadership of the program through the launch of a six-month fellowship program. Worker cooperatives represent an innovative and creative alternative to more traditional business structures. All members of a cooperatively-run business share the labor, decisions, responsibilities, profits, and ownership shares.


“The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs congratulates this year’s THRIVE finalists,” said commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “Immigrant entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the city. Immigrants are twice as likely as native-born New Yorkers to start a business, but they face unique challenges. This competition supports immigrant entrepreneurs and rewards their ingenuity and pluck.”

“Through programs like THRIVE and the Immigrant Business Initiative, the City is working together to ensure that every entrepreneur - no matter where they are from, what they look like, or where they live - has the resources they need to succeed,” said Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Congratulations to the finalists of the THRIVE competition, and a warm thank you for the work you are doing to help strengthen immigrant entrepreneurs in New York City, and their businesses which are so fundamental to the City’s economy.”

“We are extremely excited to be running the third year of Competition Thrive,” says Monica Dean, director of the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College, as we are assisting entrepreneurial service organizations help shape the future for immigrant entrepreneurs. This year's competition has a good mix of proposed projects with interesting collaborations between organizations. The pilot programs target industries that traditionally immigrants would access (i.e. construction, food, retail) but have faced challenges in scaling their businesses because of operational issues or industry structural requirements.”

“BOC is very honored to have the opportunity to pilot an innovative idea to advance the prospects of immigrant contractors,” said Nancy Carin, Executive Director of the Business Outreach Center Network.

“The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) is honored to have been selected as a finalist for Competition THRIVE and looks forward to working on this important project to support immigrant entrepreneurs,” said NCRC’s President and CEO John Taylor. “New York City and all of America have a long and proud history of presenting immigrants with opportunities to use their creativity and hard work to build successful small businesses. NCRC’s pilot Bonding Portal program, which will be administered through our NYC MBDA Minority Business Center, will play a part in that tradition by providing immigrant entrepreneurs with an online tool to access bonding opportunities. This service will be accompanied by technical assistance and professional networking support to help immigrant entrepreneurs grow their small businesses.”

“We are ecstatic to been chosen as a Competition THRIVE finalist,” said Sean Basinski, Director of the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center. “Our training program for vendors, in partnership with Queens Economic Development Corporation, will help vendors utilize technology (which they often already have in their pockets) to advance their small businesses.”

“We are thrilled to take on this innovative initiative that will support immigrant-owned small restaurants in the Bronx through the formation of a retailer coop that will allow them to centralize, among others, buying, delivery, and storage operations to realize cost savings and provide healthier food options to Bronx residents and visitors,” said SoBRO President Phillip Morrow. “Immigrant-owned businesses are important drivers of economic growth, making up over half of all businesses in our borough. We look forward to working with our 30+ coop members in the coming year to help them reduce costs and strengthen operations through technical assistance provided by SoBRO’s Entrepreneurial Development Program.”  

“We at the Working World are excited to continue working with Far Rockaway residents to develop immigrant worker-owned cooperatives in order to further a post-Hurricane Sandy reconstruction that is economically just and environmentally sustainable,” said the Working World. “We are excited to be part of a growing global network of worker-owned cooperatives that is creating a radical new economic model that values human rights, community needs and worker dignity.”

New York City’s immigrant population has more than doubled since 1970, from roughly 1.4 million to 3.1 million, and immigrants now represent nearly 38 percent of the City’s population and 46 percent of the City’s labor force. A significant and important piece of the City’s entrepreneurial economy, immigrants have a strong record of opening businesses here in New York City, but a greater proportion of immigrant business owners shut down operations within 12 months compared to their non-immigrant peers. Factors such as limited capacity to plan for long term growth, lack of trust in government programs, fragmentation of resources, immigration status, and language constraints often serve as additional barriers to growth for immigrant entrepreneurs.

NYCEDC launched Competition THRIVE in 2011 as part of a suite of initiatives to support immigrant-owned businesses. Since its inception, the program has significantly grown, collectively distributing $600,000 to 10 organizations across the five boroughs, reaching more than 700 New Yorkers. The 2013 winner, Brooklyn-based CAMBA, introduced an intensive hands-on program that teaches immigrant small business owners to integrate mobile technology into their daily operations to better manage data, improve efficiency, and boost sales. The 2012 winner, Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), expanded their foreign language contractor training program, which provides assistance to immigrant home improvement contractors preparing to take the Department of Consumer Affairs licensing test in their native language. Both programs are still underway, and have reached hundreds of immigrant entrepreneurs with the support of the competition. The competition was initially developed after a year of round-table discussions with community members across the City that identified an opportunity for significant growth in the City’s resources and support mechanisms for immigrant entrepreneurs.

In addition to Competition THRIVE, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen and the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) in May announced the Immigrant Business Initiative, a program that will work with Community Based Organizations to find and execute solutions to help immigrant-owned businesses start, operate and grow. Through the Immigrant Business Initiative, SBS is currently soliciting ideas from Community Based Organizations across the five boroughs, and will choose up to five proposals for new City services to help immigrant-owned businesses. The deadline for submitting a proposal is Friday, July 11, and services are expected to be available this fall. To submit a proposal or for more information, click here.

To learn more about Competition THRIVE, please visit  For further information about Competition THRIVE, contact Lendynette Pacheco-Jorge at



New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.


About the Western Union Foundation:

The Western Union Foundation is dedicated to creating a better world, where the ability to realize dreams through economic opportunity is not just a privilege for the few but a right for all. Through its signature program, Education for Better, and with the support of The Western Union Company, its employees, Agents, and business partners, The Western Union Foundation works to realize this vision by supporting education and disaster relief efforts as pathways toward a better future. Our combined social ventures efforts make life better for individuals, families and communities around the world. Since its inception, The Western Union Foundation has committed more than $93.9 million in grants and other giving to more than 2,708 nongovernmental organizations in more than 133 countries and territories. The Western Union Foundation, is a separate §501(c)(3) recognized United States charity. To learn more, visit


About Baruch College:

Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 17,000 students, who represent 160 countries and speak more than 100 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 5 public regional university, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world. For more about Baruch College, go to


About The Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship:

The Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College is a model of entrepreneurship education built around the collaboration of an institution of higher education, government, and the private sector. Faculty and students from Baruch’s Zicklin School of Business, Baruch’s Small Business Development Center Business (SBDC) Advisors, alumni and volunteers are brought together to support the entrepreneurial endeavors of start-ups and established businesses and the college’s constituents. The Field Center was founded in 1993 as the Small Business Lab with a grant from the CUNY Workforce Development Initiative and support from Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business to assist New York City residents in starting businesses. In 1998, the Center was named after Lawrence N. Field in appreciation for his generous contribution. Since its inception, the Center’s role as an engine for economic impact has been substantial – 18,305 businesses have been served, $139,413,776 invested in the area’s economy and 8,576 jobs have been saved or created.



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