SPRINGFIELD — For Jessika Rozki, owner of Rozki Rides in Springfield, the $1,000 her business received from the Latino Economic Development Corp. is more than a chance to pay for professional accounting.
“It means everything,” she said. “It is so helpful to have support as a woman business owner, as a Latina business owner.”
The Latino Economic Development Corp. this month awarded about $14,000 in mini-grants to 11 businesses in Chicopee, Holyoke and Springfield.
Recipients include small businesses like Rozki’s, a 3-year-old transportation service with four employees, three vans and a small bus. It provides transportation to children, including those with special needs, and is branching out to special events and other people-moving jobs.
“I want to buy a school bus, 72 passengers,” she said. “I’m a school-bus driver at heart.”
A business might approach the Latino Economic Development Corp. for grant money to buy equipment and walk away instead awarded $2,000 to cover the costs of accounting services they need. The money comes with access to 27 coaches who will help with everything from mental health to marketing.
“Sometimes people don’t know what they don’t know,” said Andrew L. Melendez, director of the Latino Economic Development Corp. “With our coaches it’s important that we fill these gaps.”
He said the mini-grants epitomize the work of the Latino Economic Development Corp. , encompassing the “3 Cs” of successful business: coaching; capital infusion; and connection.
Partners for Community, parent organization of the Latino Economic Development Corp. received $300,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funding for small business grants of $2,000 to $5,000 targeting businesses in Holyoke, Springfield and Chicopee.
Last week’s announcements, hosted in each of the three cities, were only for the first round.
Melendez said 172 companies applied and all the applications that were not successful can continue on and try in the next round which will be announced in late January. Information is available online at partnersforcommunity.org/
The value of the small grants, Melendez said, comes in pairing expertise with the funding in small amounts.
“So everyone who receives this grant is going to get monitored and coached along the the line,” he explained. “Then, having a psychologist to talk about burnout, have a personal trainer talk about mental health and physical health.”
For example Los Supreme Hot Dogs, a food truck that sets up at area Home Depots, got $1,000 to improve the menu decals. While it’s not much, Melendez said, it can help the business pull in a few hundred more dollars a day in revenue.
The grants also help business owners avoid high-interest loans in the early, more risky stages of their business and prepare a better case for lower-interest, lower risk funding later on when they are truly prepared to grow.
Melendez said he’s proud of the variety of businesses that applied and received funding, from medical staffing and transportation to child-care and music production.
“It’s not just the stereotypical restaurants and barber shops,” he said
This round of funding recipients include:
Caring Medical Staffing, $1,000 for accounting services for a year;
Tony Digital Music & Media, $1,000, for equipment and software;
MD Beauty Salon, $2,000, for new signage;
My Little Talent Day Care, $1,000, for cashflow support;
Los Supreme Hot Dogs, $1,000 for signage;
AM Creations, $2,000, for first and last months’ rental payments;
Listening With Love, $1,000, for computer purchases;
Naz Small Repairs, $1,000, to support obtaining general contractor’s license;
Fiesta Café, $1,000, for accounting services for a year;
Top Legends Barbershop, $1,000 for finance and accounting services for a year; and
Rozki Rides, $1,000 to assist in transportation purchases.