April 2015 | Grants Newsletter
Making It in New York
Building a profitable small business anywhere is tough, but fierce competition and high overhead make New York especially grueling. The grants on these pages help companies as well as nonprofits streamline and improve operations.
| Marisa Wu (above) is principal and founder of Salty Road candy company, Brooklyn. Here, she pulls taffy at her factory with candy maker Benjamin Nelson. Photo by Amy Wolf/The Trust
|Above: “Triple Feature,” performed by Chris Giarmo at Big Dance Theater, an ArtsPool client in Brooklyn. Photo by Brad Harris
FIRST PERSON | MARISA WU
"Four years ago, I started making saltwater taffy for a friend’s shop near the beach in Far Rockaway, Queens. I’d worked in the movie business and at a candy manufacturer, so I combined my production talents and love of sweets. It was love at first pull.
I named the business Salty Road. This taffy is special: My taste-testers (who might be a bit biased) agree it’s creamy like a milkshake, with a salt crystal crunch.
I needed to learn a lot about business, and fast. I took a free class on growing a business, offered by East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corporation (now known as Evergreen: Your North Brooklyn Business Exchange
). It connected me with lenders. Now I have a factory near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We sell to retailers in 25 states and Tokyo.
Now the thorny part: How do I make this business sustainable while providing living wages to workers in a city that’s so expensive?
I’m sending my colleague to Evergreen’s next human resources class. Just as we use only the best ingredients, we want to have the best possible workplace for our staff."
The Trust gave Evergreen $120,000 to help City specialty food manufacturers build their businesses, find the right employees, plan inventory, and more.
Behind the Curtain
“How many great plays could have been written in the time it takes theater companies to prepare for audits and file IRS paperwork?” asks Ginny Louloudes, director of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York. Too many arts organizations are mired in business tasks. With seed funding from The Trust in 2012, the Alliance incubated ArtsPool, a cooperative administrative service. For a modest fee, it provides everything from payroll to bookkeeping to help navigating a thicket of regulations—saving groups time and money (and sanity). Our new grant of $125,000 will help the project become a self-sustaining cooperative enterprise.
“ArtsPool will give us more time to commit to our art. Plus we get back-end expertise that we’ve been seriously lacking.”
— Tamara Jenkins, executive artistic director of the Harbor Lights Theater Company
On the Books
Street vendors, repairmen, nannies—roughly half of Queens’ economy is off the books. Immigrant entrepreneurs fuel much of the small business growth, but often lack experience and language skills to enter the official economy by getting licenses and commercial bank accounts. A lack of bank loans and legal contracts stymies their expansion. With $50,000 from The Trust, Queens Economic Development Corporation will offer a 20-part seminar to Hispanic and Chinese immigrants seeking financial skills and English for doing business. The group plans to work with banks to offer $500 bonuses as an incentive to businesses that open accounts.