SMALL BUSINESSES ARE THE ECONOMIC ENGINE OF OUR REGION
Since 2004, the Welcoming Center has directly assisted more than 800 individual entrepreneurs and business groups throughout the Philadelphia region. Our services are based on the awareness that thriving small business is vital for a healthy economy. We understand that immigrant business owners are a key component of local commercial corridors. And we know that honest communication and true cross-ethnic collaboration are necessary for shared prosperity.
Across our region, new and existing business owners do better when they have good connections to their fellow entrepreneurs and smooth access to business services. The Welcoming Center builds those connections through daily contact with individual business owners, both immigrants and US-born, and practical assistance in overcoming barriers to entrepreneurship.
Our purposeful approach draws on community-level feedback. For example, a structured town-hall meeting in 2006 drew more than 100 participants, including native-born American and immigrant business owners, community leaders, elected officials and nonprofit staff. Small-group facilitated discussions produced a consensus on top issues of community concern: Quality of life, education, and crime and safety. Participants also brainstormed potential ways that native-born and immigrant community members could work together to address these concerns.
In response to participant recommendations, the Welcoming Center began planning to establish a locally based resource center. Community groups such as the 52nd Street Business Association identified a potential location along West Philadelphia’s best-known commercial corridors, and Welcoming Center West formally opened in 2008.
Today, we serve business owners and community residents across the region. Our specialized services for small businesses include:
- Opportunity Calls monthly multilingual phone announcements
- English for Entrepreneurs classes to improve customer-service skills and community relations
- Individual technical assistance for new and existing business owners
- Market research data to help merchants and business associations identify opportunities
- Business clinics featuring small-business experts available for free consultation
- Workshops on topics such as saving on energy costs or tax preparation
- Step-by-step guides to explain licensing and regulatory requirements for small businesses
We also offer services to business associations and community development corporations to help them recruit and benefit from diverse membership.
To learn more about how to support immigrant and native-born American entrepreneurs in your community, please contact Bahiya Cabral-Johnson at 215-557-2868.