UPPER MANHATTAN EMPOWERMENT ZONE

FAQs

FAQs

What is the Empowerment Zone?
How is UMEZ lending different from a bank’s?
What is BRISC? 
What types of funding does UMEZ offer? 
What is the application process? How long does it take to get funding?
Does UMEZ provide start-up capital to businesses?
I want to move my business to a new location. Why would I want to relocate my business to the Empowerment Zone? 
Does UMEZ finance any programs to help residents with their housing needs? 
Does UMEZ provide financial assistance to develop housing? 
I’m new to Upper Manhattan. How can I learn more about the area? 

What is the Empowerment Zone?
The Empowerment Zone is a geographic area designated by the federal government that includes portions of Central, East and West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood sections of New York City. The purpose of the designation is to revitalize these communities by using public funds and tax incentives for private investment. The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ) was formed in response to the designation by the federal government, and UMEZ invests in these communities to stimulate and promote economic growth, job opportunities, business expansion and cultural development.

How is UMEZ lending different from a bank’s?
The UMEZ loans to qualified existing and start-up businesses in Upper Manhattan. Unlike traditional bank lenders, we generally do not focus solely on credit scores or require two years of operations. Unlike SBA lenders, we do not require our loans to be 100% collateralized by your personal assets.

What is BRISC?
The Business Resource and Investment Service Center, Inc.  (BRISC) is a not-for-profit organization funded and staffed by UMEZ with a separate board of directors. It was established to fill the space between microcredit and business loans for Upper Manhattan entrepreneurs.

BRISC offers start-up and/or expansion loans to qualified entrepreneurs in Upper Manhattan. The typical loan size is $50,000 to $250,000 with a competitive fixed rate. The loans have a maximum five (5)-year maturity and there is no job creation requirement. In addition, our technical assistance programs are available to assist entreprenuers evaluate the sustainability, profitability, and growth of small businesses in the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.

What types of funding does UMEZ offer?
UMEZ offers grants to nonprofit organizations and artist-driven projects, and loans to businesses and commercial development projects.

What is the application process? How long does it take to get funding?
The process and duration depend on the type of funding sought. The following are the four types of financing we offer:

Does UMEZ provide start-up capital to businesses?
UMEZ selectively finances start-up business opportunities. Emphasis is placed on the entrepreneurial experience of the management team, the quality and completeness of the business plan and financial projections, and the level of equity investment by the entrepreneurs.

I want to move my business to a new location. Why would I want to relocate my business to the empowerment zone?
The area’s rapid population growth and income growth has transformed Upper Manhattan into an ideal location for business expansion. In addition to benefiting from the improving economic trends, qualified businesses may be eligible for various federal, state, and local tax and financial incentives; technical assistance; and hiring assistance. You can also learn more about tax incentives for large and small businesses offered by New York City and New York State by visiting our List of Recommended Resources for Businesses.

Does UMEZ finance any programs to help residents with their housing needs?
No. Each neighborhood in Upper Manhattan has housing programs, including housing counseling, home repairs, and loans to support housing development. These programs are operated by other organizations. You can seek assistance from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Does UMEZ provide financial assistance to develop housing?
No. Developers interested in programs that create housing opportunities for low-income individuals or home ownership opportunities should contact the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. HPD-administered activities include programs for producing new housing, acquiring and maintaining existing occupied housing, and providing housing and service delivery for people with specialized affordable housing and service needs.

I’m new to Upper Manhattan. How can I learn more about the area?
You can start by reading the Upper Manhattan At A Glance section of this website, which provides links to organizations that specialize in visitor resources and identifying things to see and do in Upper Manhattan.

If your question was not answered here, please contact us.