In the summer of 2019, former Mayor Lovely Warren announced the Rochester Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) would oversee a new $13 million-plus Revitalize Rochester fund, seeded with money and promised low-interest loans from the state and area banks. "We need to step up our game, or else we are going to be left behind," Warren said.
Has any of this money "Revitalized Rochester"? Our investigation discovered that during the tax season from October 2020 to September 2021, REDCO approved over $455,000 in grants to companies from Charlotte, North Carolina to Palmdale, California.
The organization also provided grants to the City of Rochester for $251,226 to beautify the Thurston Brooks area with banners/zoning program, the Financial Empowerment Center, $72,750 to Ibero-American Action League INC, $37,250 to the Urban League of Rochester, $74,750 to Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County Inc, and $25,500 to Rochester Institute of Technology.
According to the website, Rochester Economic Development Corporation's (REDCO's) purpose is to drive community-based economic development that increases wealth in every part of the City. The mission is to reduce wealth disparities in middle-income and poor Rochester neighborhoods by creating and supporting locally owned micro and small neighborhood businesses and urban enterprises. Despite only approving an estimated $55,000 in grants to these businesses and $200,000 to Pittsford, Brighton, and Webster businesses. That is nearly four times the amount granted to inner-city business owners. On average, suburban business owners received $50,000, while inner-city business owners received less than $10,000.
The company's website claims that at the end of our first full year of fiscal operations, despite the unprecedented economic and social climate of the past eighteen months, we find the city and its entrepreneurial ecosystem accelerating. Continued development of business education programs, new community partnerships with Entrepreneur Support Organizations, investments in neighborhood and commercial revitalization initiatives, and continued support of emerging and growing small to medium-sized businesses have all positively impacted the City of Rochester.