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Community Advocacy Organization

City of Lansing to Enhance Services for Small-Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

With Support from Principal® Foundation and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, Lansing Announces New Small Business Boost Initiative to Support Small-Business Owners

  • CFE Funds will allow small-businesses access to free professional financial counseling services in the Greater Lansing region.

  • Program is a partnership between City of Lansing Financial Empowerment Center, Cristo Rey Financial Empowerment Center, and Lansing Economic Area Partnership.

LANSING, Mich. (March 21, 2022) – The City of Lansing and the national nonprofit Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) announced the launch of Small Business Boost, a new pilot program to connect small-business owners and entrepreneurs to one-on-one Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) financial counseling. Lansing joins Akron, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; Polk County, IA; and Rochester, NY in connecting local small business support services to the Financial Empowerment Center initiative, which offers professional one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service.

While starting a small business can be a promising pathway to financial stability, entrepreneurs often begin this path with existing financial challenges. These challenges exacerbate their inability to access capital, to start or grow their small businesses, and translates into inadequate savings which result in irregular cash flow. This new initiative called Small Business Boost, supported generously by Principal® Foundation, will help local entrepreneurs and small-business owners in Lansing improve their personal finances, better positioning them to access capital and achieve their business goals. Entrepreneurs and small-business owners interested in FEC financial counseling can access services by scheduling an appointment online at and selecting “LEAP / Entrepreneurial Financial Counseling” or by calling 517-483-4550 and indicating they are a small-business owner.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our community, providing jobs for working families across the region, and many have struggled throughout the pandemic. I look forward to this program helping small-business owners throughout Lansing. This partnership will be a fantastic step forward in helping these business owners continue their incredible work,” said Lansing Mayor Andy Schor.

"Understanding your personal financial position is critical to successfully operating a small business," says Tony Willis, chief equity development officer at LEAP. "The Small Business Booster program will add layers of support to both existing and potential entrepreneurs putting in the work in the Greater Lansing region. Providing access to understanding the multifaceted elements of business management will change the trajectory of all of the businesses involved." 

“Borrowing the quote ‘You build people first, then the people build the business’ couldn’t be more accurate. Entrepreneurs do their very best with their skillset and the resources available. I am thrilled about the launch of the Small Business Boost, which connects small-business owners with one-on-one financial counseling. The effort demonstrates a commitment and understanding from the City of Lansing and Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund of the importance of small business in our region,” said Cristo Rey CEO Joe Garcia.

“Running a small business can be a critical driver of opportunity, helping entrepreneurs build financial stability and wealth for themselves, their families and their communities – but for too many people, their own finances are a barrier to making a strong start,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “We’re thrilled to partner with Lansing Mayor Andy Schor and Principal® Foundation on Small Business Boost, to help entrepreneurs manage their personal finances and better access capital and generate wealth, and to share lessons learned from this pilot so that local governments across the country build strong and inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems.”

"Principal® Foundation is committed to advancing financial security. Small businesses, notwithstanding the tremendous losses they suffered due to the pandemic, are still the engines for local growth and the pathway to financial security for many Americans. Thus, we are thrilled to support the work of CFE Fund and its Financial Empowerment Center partners to remove barriers and expand opportunities for entrepreneurs to launch businesses that meet community needs, improve local economies and strengthen local communities," said Jo Christine miles director, Principal Foundation and community relations.

The CFE Fund received a $1 million grant from Principal® Foundation to pilot Small Business Boost and worked with the City of Lansing and other Financial Empowerment Center partners to connect local entrepreneurship and small business support services with FEC financial counseling. The Lansing Financial Empowerment Center is located at Cristo Rey Community Center, representing a partnership between them and the city. The City of Lansing partnered with the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) on the grant proposal which aims to deliver at least 480 counseling sessions to local business owners. The partnership will focus on connecting program participants and alumni of LEAP’s One and All program to the Small Business Boost program. One and All is an eight-week inclusive entrepreneurship program designed to increase successful entrepreneurship and small business ownership among underrepresented populations including people of color, women, persons with disabilities, immigrants, military veterans, racial or ethnic minority groups and refugees and returning citizens. One and All participants fall below the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) threshold, commonly known as the working poor. While One and All program members are the target audience for the grant, any Lansing small-business owner may participate. Eligible participants will have the opportunity to win one of 20 $500 prizes for completing achievements and milestones with their FEC counselor. The Lansing Financial Empowerment Center has already helped over 5,000 residents reduce cumulative non-mortgage debt by over $13 million and build cumulative savings by over $1 million.

Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) offer professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service; the CFE Fund’s national FEC Public platform looks to grow this movement across the country, including through the newly expanded FEC Academy entry point. First piloted in New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008, the FECs have worked with over 133,000 clients, helping them reduce individual debt by over $192 million, and increasing their families’ savings by over $38 million. There are currently over 30 cities that have launched or are working to launch, a local Financial Empowerment Center initiative. A CFE Fund evaluation showed that this program works even for residents with very low incomes and other complex financial challenges.

At the Financial Empowerment Centers, professionally trained FEC counselors help consumers with low and moderate incomes manage their finances, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products. At the core of the FEC model is the integration of counseling into other social services, including housing and foreclosure prevention, workforce development, prisoner reentry, benefits access, domestic violence services, and more – Small Business Boost is an example of one such targeted integration. Through the Small Business Boost pilot, Lansing FEC counselors will support business owners and entrepreneurs in addressing personal financial challenges that present barriers to success in building wealth through business ownership. In addition, Lansing FEC counselors will receive significant training on the relationship between personal finance and business growth, how to navigate entrepreneurial ecosystems, and how to drive business outcomes through improving personal finances.

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