(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (OAPIA) launched the Connect, Engage and BUILD! (CEB) Initiative at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) on November 14, 2013. Over 80 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) business leaders, community members, and District government officials attended the event.
CEB is an initiative to connect AAPI small retail businesses with District government resources and neighbors so that businesses can engage with the District and community to help build and diversify the District’s economy. Multiple programs will be implemented under CEB such as the Adopt-a-Block Program, Project BUILD (Business University partnership to Innovate, Link, and Develop Small Retail Businesses), the Right Choice Campaign, and the Storefront Façade Improvement program.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Soohyun “Julie” Koo, Director of OAPIA, Nicholas Majett, Director of DCRA, and Mila Kofman, Executive Director of the Health Benefit Exchange Authority (HBX), all offered remarks and greetings.
“We want to continue ensuring that all small businesses are able to access government resources and programs that will allow them to grow, diversify, and contribute to the District’s economy for decades to come,” said Mayor Gray.
OAPIA also presented an update on one of the programs under CEB called Project BUILD to attendees. Project BUILD began in FY13 as a pilot program, pairing AAPI small businesses with bilingual Master of Business Administration (MBA) students to develop personalized business plans that would allow small business owners to apply for funding opportunities, improve their business marketing strategy, and receive long-term business planning guidance. OAPIA will continue Project BUILD in FY14 and offer additional types of technical business assistance such as preparing small business loan applications.
"I am glad I joined this project that OAPIA started. The students were very professional and came up with many solutions and possible options that we have not thought of before. They have put in a lot of time to work on doing the analysis for our business," said Gary Zhu, owner of the AYT Institute, one of the five businesses that participated in the pilot program of Project BUILD in FY13.
Partners of the CEB initiative include: the Health Benefit Exchange Authority (HBX), the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLDB), the DC Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs, the Chinatown Steering Committee, the Fujianese Association, Georgetown University, the Korean American Dry Cleaners Association, the Korean American Grocers Association, Many Languages One the Voice, Vietnamese Roadway Vendors Association, the Ward 7 and 8 DC Prevention Center, the Ward 7 Safe and Drug Free Communities Coalition, and the Washington Area Liquor Retailers Association.
For more information about Connect, Engage and BUILD!, please visit www.apia.dc.gov.