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M&T Bank launches 2nd annual Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab


Citing feedback from community leaders, non-profits and business customers who say there is great need for a supportive ecosystem for local entrepreneurs of racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds—M&T Bank launched its Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab one year ago.

This year the Lab has expanded to serve 50 entrepreneurs who will get an education in networking, marketing, accessing capital and other important facets to running a successful business.

M&T Bank Western New York Regional President Eric Feldstein describes the goal of the Lab:

“Our purpose is really to help people; our customers our employees and our neighbors,” he said. “And we're seeing how this program empowers entrepreneurs strengthens local businesses and creates ripple effects that uplift our entire community.”

And more specifically:

“What's wonderful about this program is that it does provide education around capital networking, presentation skills, understanding business valuation, building impactful brands, and the curriculum itself is led by experts from our community, professionals from within the bank and collaborators from our colleagues at Canisius College.”

And the program is a bit personal for Feldstein.

“My wife is Latina small business owner entrepreneur so this is near and dear to everything that I see,” he said.

Feldstein also points to the owners and operators of Unapologetic Coffee on Buffalo’s East Side, who went through the program last year, as an example of immediate success.

The Lab runs through December 20th with $20,000 prize for the winner of a pitch competition.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.