Community Economic Development (CED) is a federal grant program with a mission to address the economic needs of low-income individuals and families through the creation of sustainable business development and employment opportunities. That’s why CED just awarded an $800,000 grant to MEDA and La Cocina. This pairing has already showcased results over the years: Many MEDA restaurant/catering business clients later accessed La Cocina’s Mission kitchen incubator as a means to launch their venture.
The two community-based organizations will use these CED funds to abet small-business growth. The timeline is from October 2016 to September 2019. Over this period, MEDA will provide business-acceleration services to 20 food businesses and provide loans to eight businesses, with a goal of the creation of 40 new jobs. Seventy-five percent of these new jobs are slated to be filled by individuals who are defined as low income (at 125 percent of the federal poverty level by ACF/HHS guidelines.)
MEDA’s Director of Development Jillian Spindle explains the strategy as follows: “The target is low-income business owners in the restaurant and catering industries, which have demonstrated high growth potential in the Bay Area. This CED grant will allow MEDA and La Cocina to move these small businesses forward.”
Business-acceleration services will be provided to these ventures via a two-pronged approach of access to La Cocina’s commercial kitchen business incubator coupled with capital from MEDA’s community loan fund, Adelante Fund. MEDA launched Adelante Fund last year, cognizant that many small businesses struggle to access the lending capital that is necessary to help their ventures grow. In addition, many families in the Mission’s Latino community face barriers in accessing mainstream financial products, compelling them to turn to high-cost predatory lenders in times of need.
Another piece of the strategy will be placement of low-income individuals in these growing businesses with the assistance of MEDA’s Workforce Development program, in partnership with other local workforce programs and agencies. MEDA’s free job training program places hundreds of individuals in jobs each year via resume refinement, mock interviews and industry connections.
The proposed business creation and expansion projects will provide much-needed jobs for an underserved community, while contributing to larger neighborhood revitalization strategies. Areas served by MEDA have higher poverty rates than state and national averages — as high as 23 percent among Latinos in some areas of San Francisco. This project strategically addresses numerous personal and community barriers, including few living-wage job opportunities for low-income Latinos, lack of access to capital and financing for disadvantaged business owners, and a dearth of language and culturally appropriate social and supportive services for business owners and the newly employed.
“Thanks to CED for supporting this vital work in the community. We are ready to get started!” concludes Spindle.