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October 5, 2022

Women’s Business Development Council preparing to establish downtown Waterbury office 

HBJ PHOTO | MICHAEL PUFFER A family of investors from Long Island in December paid $190,000 for an 11,040-square-foot building at 111 Bank St. in Waterbury, formerly home to Tony’s Men’s Shop.

Waterbury officials are preparing to commit $1.5 million to help the Women’s Business Development Council to open a new office in downtown Waterbury.

Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary’s administration is asking the city Board of Aldermen to approve spending $1.5 million from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation to aid the nonprofit, which is dedicated to helping women succeed in business.

“The city plans to provide $300,000 per year over a five-year period to assist the WBDC in establishing a permanent, physical office within the City of Waterbury's downtown area; expanding its highly successful technical assistance, counseling, workshops and courses to Waterbury based small businesses at all stages of development and expanding its small business microgrant programs specifically to Waterbury-based businesses,” Waterbury Manager of Budget Development and Oversight Sarah Geary wrote in a memo to aldermen.

Of the $300,000 Waterbury would provide yearly to the nonprofit, $160,000 will be used for a grant pool for small businesses “that meet certain eligibility criteria,” $140,000 will be used to support technical assistance programs and operation costs for the new Waterbury office, Geary wrote.

The WBDC will “provide matching funds” of $250,000 per year for five years and has secured a commitment of $60,000 yearly from Webster Bank, according to Geary’s memo.
JoAnn Gulbin, marketing and communications director for the Women’s Business Development Counsel, declined comment.

The nonprofit currently has regional offices in Stamford, New London and New Haven. On its website, the nonprofit – which was founded in 1997 -- said it has served nearly 19,000 clients and assisted in the creation of 1,800 businesses, as well as the sustainability and expansion of 3,800 established businesses.

“The Administration believes that its partnership with WBDC on this initiative will foster economic development by providing meaningful assistance that will help launch and/or grow successful small businesses in Waterbury, particularly those that are women and minority-owned,” reads a portion of Geary’s memo to Waterbury’s aldermen. 

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