More than 1,000 small business owners will receive assistance
Wells Fargo yesterday awarded an Open for Business Fund grant to Florida International University (FIU) to launch a robust, virtual platform at StartUP FIU Food, a small business incubator that serves food and beverage micro-entrepreneurs in South Florida.
The $750,000 grant is projected to offer online resources to more than 1,000 small businesses to help them recover and emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small business owners who currently participate in StartUP FIU Food have access to state-of-the-art kitchens and facilities at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, as well as the expertise of food scientists and mentors, who advise on product development, strategy, financials, e-commerce, and more. Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund grant will help StartUP FIU Food formalize and expand these counseling and technical assistance resources into a virtual platform that will become a permanent facet of its programming.
“The pandemic has permanently shifted the consumer paradigm,” said Emily Gresham, FIU’s assistant vice president for Research & Economic Development and cofounder of StartUP FIU. “There is no return to business as usual, and we have to help these microbusinesses — most with less than four employees — adjust to a new normal with very little resources. I am so grateful to Wells Fargo for trusting us to help our most vulnerable small business owners recover and become more resilient.”
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, StartUP FIU Food recognized that in addition to offering resources online, it had to expand its support beyond its incubator companies. As South Florida restaurants and food and beverage businesses were reeling from the economic effects of the pandemic, seeing revenue decline between 30% and 50%, StartUP FIU Food began offering online course modules teaching businesses to pivot by leveraging e- commerce, utilizing third-party delivery services and other measures to slow drastic losses in sales.
“Entrepreneurs across South Florida are critical to economic growth, including the wide variety of food microbusinesses in Miami’s diverse neighborhoods,” said Wells Fargo’s Vice Chairman of Public Affairs Bill Daley. “FIU is an anchor institution in the community, a trusted expert that local entrepreneurs can turn to as a way to stabilize and grow their business. With its new virtual platform, StartUP FIU Food can significantly expand the number of local businesses that will benefit.”
The grant is one of several Open for Business Fund grants Wells Fargo has awarded in Florida to support small businesses. The Open for Business Fund is a roughly $420 million small business recovery effort across the U.S. to help entrepreneurs recover and rebuild. The initiative focuses on three key areas: increasing access to capital through CDFIs, technical assistance, and long-term recovery and resiliency programs.
“As we look ahead to recover, restore, and rebound our economy from the pandemic, we have a critical opportunity to build back stronger by supporting the businesses that were among the hardest hit — especially those in food and beverage and hospitality,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “Miami-Dade’s economy runs thanks to small businesses, and I’m thankful to FIU and Wells Fargo for standing up for our community and supporting local entrepreneurs when they need it most.”
This grant is part of FIU’s Next Horizon campaign, which is advancing student success and research excellence at the university.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a leading financial services company that has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets, proudly serves one in three U.S.households and more than 10% of small businesses in the U.S., and is the leading middle market banking provider in the U.S. We provide a diversified set of banking, investment, and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through our four reportable operating segments: Consumer Banking and Lending, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, and Wealth & Investment Management. Wells Fargo ranked No. 37 on Fortune’s 2021 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health, and a low-carbon economy. News, insights, and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.
About StartUP FIU
StartUP FIU is a university-wide innovation hub that fosters and develops entrepreneurship and innovation to help students, researchers, and community connect, contribute to, and thrive in today’s fast-changing world. Programming within its three pillars, Research Commercialization, Student Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, work with individuals to ideate, launch and scale their businesses.
About the FIU Foundation, Inc.
Established in 1969, the Florida International University Foundation, Inc. (FIU Foundation) is registered by the State of Florida as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. As defined in Florida Statute section 1004.28, the FIU Foundation has also been certified as a Direct Support Organization (DSO) of Florida International University. Governed by a board of directors, the FIU Foundation serves to encourage, solicit, receive, and ethically administer gifts for scientific, educational, and charitable purposes for the advancement of FIU. Through philanthropy, the FIU Foundation provides the margin of excellence that makes FIU one of the nation’s leading public research universities. For more information, visit give.fiu.edu.
Florida International University is a Top 50 public university that drives real talent and innovation in Miami and globally. High research (R1) activity and high social mobility come together at FIU to uplift and accelerate learner success in a global city by focusing in the areas of environment, health, innovation, and justice. Today, FIU has two campuses and multiple centers. FIU serves a diverse student body of more than 58,000 and 270,000 Panther alumni. U.S. News and World Report places dozens of FIU programs among the best in the nation, including international business at No. 2. Washington Monthly Magazine ranks FIU among the top 20 public universities contributing to the public good.