Community Partner Highlight: Leah Archibald, Executive Director at EWVIDCO
1. How long had your organization been in the business of helping small businesses?
“EWVIDCO was founded 30 years ago by the economic development firm of the St. Nicks Alliance, which is a large multi-service community development agency. We are our own independent, 501 (c)(3), nonprofit. We work with the businesses in industrial North Brooklyn to help them grow, so we can keep high quality working class jobs in our community.”
2. What’s been your organization’s biggest hurdle in achieving its goal of aiding small businesses?
“One hurdle for our organization is that there is much beyond our control. The biggest challenge is the business climate. Other factors, all of which are beyond our control, include the relentless march of gentrification, as well as the economy. It has been a very difficult two years since the recession – people and our organization are still coming back from that.”
3. Describe any major accomplishments for your organization over the last year.
“In the past 12 months, EWVIDCO has done many things that I am very proud of. We were able to help many businesses in the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The day after the storm we went out and did a door to door survey of as much of the industrial area as we could cover to talk with the businesses and find out what their problems were. We became a repository for information for them. The week after the storm we had a workshop with the attendance of two congressional representatives, our state senator, our state assemblyman, the SBA, FEMA - we got as many resources into the room for our businesses, as fast as we could.”
“We were really delighted by the Superstorm Sandy Loan Fund that NYBDC was administering. We were able to help sixteen businesses in our area apply for loans in the wake of Sandy. In addition to the loan applications, we were able to help in many other ways. Our businesses had major utility problems after Sandy, and things that seem like no big deal, like using the telephone is a big deal, because a lot of our businesses receive orders over the phone. We were able to help certain businesses get their phone service back. We were able to help others get their electricity back. We brought the Mayor out for a visit and he met with some of the companies that were negatively impacted. I feel like we were able provide a lot of valuable service, with little preparation, to our constituent businesses.”
4. What are the key strategic goals for your organization over the next year?
“We are really working hard on our NYC Food Manufacturers Growth Fund program which NYBDC is supporting. We think that we’ve barely begun to tap the potential of that growth. Food is really the manufacturing industrial subsector that has promise to add jobs, so we are very hopeful that the program is going to result in many more businesses served and many more jobs created.”
“On an organizational level, our most recent strategic plan has come to a close, so we are rethinking where we want to be in the next few years. We are evaluating our brand and marketing. We hope to improve upon what we have now and create a look and a message that is resonate with our thriving manufacturing base today and long into the future.”
5. What should a small business entrepreneur know about your organization?
“We can help you with the headaches of running your business in North Brooklyn. If you need a loading zone, if you are having trouble getting permits, if you need financing, if you’re looking for employees, if you have a question about how some piece of government works, we are the people you can call to help answer those questions for you free of charge. “
6. Where can they get more information about EWVIDCO?
Online at: www.ewvidco.com
By Phone: 718-388-7287
7. Describe your partnership with NYBDC and why it’s instrumental to your organization achieving its mission?
“NYBDC is a longtime supporter of EWVIDCO. One of the impediments to business growth is access to capital and NYBDC has been providing access to capital to many businesses that would not otherwise have that access for a very long time. They are an important partner in helping us in our mission to grow businesses and to grow the number and quality of working class jobs in our community. This year in particular, NYBDC’s support of storm afflicted businesses and small food producing businesses is particularly relevant because we work with so many in each of those categories.”