Welcome to Chinatown breaks ground on Manhattan’s inaugural Small Business Innovation Hub in Chinatown

Chinatown tour
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Welcome to Chinatown, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Manhattan’s vibrant Chinatown community, has embarked on an ambitious endeavor this month with the commencement of demolition and construction on its Small Business Innovation Hub. Situated at 115 Bowery, this innovative space represents a pioneering initiative aimed at empowering small businesses, fostering connections, and promoting sustainable development.

The Hub, a first-of-its-kind establishment, is envisioned as a central gathering point where the community can come together to bolster existing enterprises, nurture new ventures, and engage in activities geared towards communal growth and entrepreneurship. Once operational, it will serve as a catalyst for accelerating business endeavors, offering support services, and providing a venue for events focused on community enrichment within Manhattan’s Chinatown and beyond.

State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents Chinatown, said, “The announcement that Welcome to Chinatown has begun construction on its Small Business Innovation Hub at 115 Bowery is great news for Chinatown. Small businesses in Chinatown, many of which were disproportionately impacted by the effects of Covid-19, will soon have a place they can gather to obtain and provide resources, develop partnerships, and share best practices. This innovative space is a testament to our commitment to empower small business owners, foster collaboration, and drive sustainable growth in Chinatown. I am especially pleased that my office was able to provide capital funding towards the renovation of this remarkable space, further bolstering the incredible work being done here. I am confident that this new hub will help unleash the boundless potential of this community’s small businesses, and unite all of us around a vision for a vibrant and thriving Chinatown.”

Empire State Development President CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The Small Business Innovation Hub marks a groundbreaking milestone as Chinatown’s first dedicated space for small business support, empowering local entrepreneurs and strengthening the fabric of this vibrant community. ESD is proud to support Welcome to Chinatown’s visionary project, underscoring our commitment to nurturing small businesses as the backbone of thriving neighborhoods and paving the way for a more resilient economic future in Chinatown.”

Last summer, Welcome to Chinatown initiated a soft-open period for the Hub, during which it piloted numerous community and small business programs. Over 35 events were held, drawing more than 3,000 attendees. Additionally, the organization launched its “Coach” model, which offers tailored support and training to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs, with successful pilot runs at Corina Beauty Center and Ting’s Gift Shop. Furthermore, a community co-working space was introduced to facilitate collaboration and resource sharing.

The capital needed for this ambitious project was secured through a successful fundraising campaign, with partners such as Empire State Development, Jefferies, Panda Restaurant Group, and Amazon contributing to reach the $785,000 goal. These funds will be instrumental in realizing the vision of the Hub and enhancing Welcome to Chinatown’s ability to serve the community effectively.

Scheduled to reopen this fall, the Hub will introduce new programming and initiatives informed by data gathered from the organization’s Impact Study conducted in 2022. Since its establishment in March 2020, Welcome to Chinatown has emerged as a vital ally and resource for the Chinatown community, fostering meaningful dialogues, demonstrating unwavering commitment, and fostering trust.

The forthcoming official opening of the Hub heralds a new chapter in Welcome to Chinatown’s journey, as it provides entrepreneurs with a dedicated space to convene, learn, and thrive together. Architect Justin Ng of SPACED AGENCY is leading the design and construction efforts for the Hub, ensuring it aligns seamlessly with the community’s needs and aspirations.

For those interested in staying updated on the latest developments regarding the Hub, Welcome to Chinatown encourages following their Instagram and website for timely updates. Come fall, the doors of the Hub at 115 Bowery will reopen, symbolizing a beacon of hope and opportunity for Manhattan’s Chinatown and its wider community.