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West Side Bazaar gifted $1 million towards capital campaign expansion project

The pledge puts the incubator well past the halfway mark of the $7.5 million goal.

BUFFALO, N.Y. —  Buffalo's West Side Bazaar is closer to its expansion fundraising goal thanks to an additional $1 million in pledges.

The Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) announced the new gifts dedicated the the 'Building Community, Building Opportunity, Building the New West Side Bazaar' capital campaign.

This latest funding puts the campaign at $4.5 million, well past the halfway mark of the $7.5 million goal.

Among the lead donors making up the  $1 million include the John R. Oishei Foundation ($500,000), M&T Bank ($350,000) and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo ($100,000). 

“We aim for equity by supporting disadvantaged, enthusiastic entrepreneurs as they build toward their own establishments and realize financial security. We do that through our incubator, the West Side Bazaar, and our associated economic development program. I’m grateful that Buffalo’s venerable institutions, M&T Bank, The John R. Oishei Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo have chosen to support the Bazaar. It’s a vote of confidence and recognition of our shared values and goals -- to nurture a thriving and equitable Western New York,” WEDI Executive Director Carolynn Welch said.

WEDI currently runs the Bazaar at 25 Grant St. and plans to break ground in early 2022 at 1432 Niagara St. The new location will accommodate the 'explosive' growth the Bazaar continues to undergo. Currently there is a waitlist of 120 businesses looking to join the marketplace. More than 70% of the current small businesses there are refugee and women-owned enterprises.

“A business incubator and community gathering place, the West Side Bazaar has helped dozens of multicultural entrepreneurs learn the fundamentals of running a small business, while bringing people of all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds together to share unique experiences that celebrate Buffalo’s growing diversity,” said M&T Bank Chief Credit Officer Bob Bojdak, a longtime WEDI supporter. “This project will take their impact to even greater heights. More entrepreneurs, particularly women and people of color, will have access to opportunities to launch successful businesses, and more connections made across diverse communities will help build a more equitable city. Our team at M&T is grateful to have the opportunity to grow the West Side Bazaar’s impact and support their inspiring work to make a difference in people’s lives.”

The new space will provide space for 24 restaurant, retail and professional services and businesses as well as test and rental kitchens for independent chefs, classrooms, event space and seating for more than 75 patrons.

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