Philadelphia’s Business Center creates opportunities for small businesses

We spoke during the pandemic and it got real for a lot of small businesses. You guys were helping them navigate pandemic relief funding, and now there’s lots of opportunity coming down the pike. Talk about what’s in the future for small businesses and how they can get involved with the new infrastructure bill.

The new infrastructure bill brings lots of opportunities in public transit, child care, electric vehicles, and just with building. All these areas will be creating jobs, as well as contracts, for those entrepreneurs that are ready to receive them. We are already collecting the information from our public officials, such as Senator Street. His office is seeing the contracts that are available, so we’re planning on doing a workshop around that and then coaching specific businesses on how to fill out the paperwork, where to go, who they need to contact in order to pursue these contract opportunities. In addition, we are educating people on exactly where we are with this bill and what does it mean? How are we building a better future with the opportunities that are coming out of it.

So as you know, Cherri, we have our event on Friday, which is, “Where do we go from here?: Opportunities for Women and People of Color in the Structural Design and Mobility Industries. So that will be the first step. We’re also excited about our panel [this Friday], which will be consist of Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer from the Franklin Institute; Dr. Eugene Richardson, a Tuskegee Airmen; and last but not least, Necholas Noel, who is a CEO and structural engineer with his company, MiFECC.

One of the things you all have been working on is creating a manufacturing facility that can help small businesses. Tell us what you’re working on. What the status of that effort is?

So we’ve completed our programming research and we’re getting ready to put out an RFP [request for proposals]. Our goal is to have it open this time next year. So we’ll have programming not only on the entrepreneurship side, but also on the workforce development side. And we want to make sure that women and people of color are represented. We will be offering product development, we’ll have a lab and they’ll be able to work on prototypes. We’ll be educating them and taking them through an accelerator, so if they specifically need financing in the form of loans or equity, they’ll be able to secure that and be fully capitalized. So we’re not talking about microloans here. We’re talking about over or in the range of $250,000 to $500,000 and possibly larger than that.