Erie County Redevelopment Authority Announces StARTup Grant Awards

In its seventh round of StARTup Business Development Grant Awards, the ECRDA announced grant awards totaling $27,500 to six applicants.

“We’re thrilled to once again announce the latest round of talented StARTup grant winners.  The StARTup grants are designed to fund and support creative ventures of for-profit companies that we believe have the potential to grow and stimulate the Erie economy,” said Mengine, CEO of the Erie County Redevelopment Authority.    

The grants are competitive in nature and applicants are evaluated based on their demonstrated  plan for growth and  potential to have a positive economic impact on the Erie community.

The Spring 2023 Awardees are:

  • Chill’s Productions: $5,000.00
    • Brother and sister tandem of Cole & Brittany Kowalczyk (Hills) run and own the local independent film production studio known as Chills Productions. They also have an office in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Gem City Creative: $5,000.00
    • Founded in 2021 by Chris Schroeder and specializes in creating business branding, including logo design, campaign graphics, and animated content. Gem City has helped numerous local businesses, including Altair Real Estate and Widget Financial.
  • FEED: $5,000.00
    • FEED Media Arts Center was founded in 2021 by Benton Bainbridge who had an idea to foster the creation, exhibition, education, preservation, and innovation of media arts. The FEED Media Arts center is located in the former Epps Furniture building on State Street.
  • Yerace Glass Studio: $5,000.00
    • Owned by artist Barbara Yerace, Yerace Glass is represented in galleries across several states, including PA, NY and MI, and Barbara sells her glasswork nationally and internationally.
  • Clarisse Amani: $5,000.00
    • As Erie’s only source of traditional, custom Congolese formalwear, Clarisse offers her clients the highest quality fabrics and most current fashions. Clients can choose from readymade articles of clothing, custom tailored items, and decorative fabric overlays.
  • PACA/City Gallery Jazz Festival:  $2,500.00
    • When the annual Jazz Festival was cancelled, PACA and City Gallery jumped into action to save some of the music festival and offer live music free of cost at their venues the weekend of the traditional festival.   

Benton Bainbridge, Founder of FEED had this to say about his grant, “The StARTup grant will enable FEED to connect with our community – Erieites from around town and visitors alike – as we turn on the lights in downtown State Street.  Thanks ECRDA!”  (photo of future light display attached)

According to Donna Douglass, founder and a member of the grant review committee, “These creative entrepreneurs demonstrated significant business skills in their applications and show great promise of growth.  We appreciate the diversity of talent and are happy that this cycle we could support the renovation of a downtown building, assist budding entrepreneurs, and help save a little bit of the iconic Erie Jazz Festival.”

The StARTup Grant Program is funded in part through an American Rescue Plan grant from Erie County and from a grant from the former Edinboro University StARTup Incubator.

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