In April 2021, Queens Public Library launched The Business Incubator, an eight-week virtual program aimed at helping aspiring entrepreneurs turn their early-stage ideas into reality with the help of a team of small business experts. The library’s newest entrepreneurship initiative reflects a key insight from CUF’s virtual forum, "Boosting Incomes in Hard Times: Encouraging and Supporting Low Income Entrepreneurship in Queens," held on October 22, 2020. Speakers at the event highlighted the need to support aspiring entrepreneurs in Queens from lower-income backgrounds, with a focus on residents at the earliest stages of starting their businesses. The event also underscored the critical role that libraries play in supporting entrepreneurs from lower-income backgrounds and the need for city policymakers to support the expansion of self-funded initiatives like The Business Incubator.
Over the past year, CUF has convened a five-borough forum series focused on encouraging and supporting low-income entrepreneurship. These events have explored the opportunity to include low-income entrepreneurship among the strategies city policymakers pursue to help those hardest hit by the pandemic boost incomes and generate wealth. Speakers at the Queens forum included then Queens Public Library Manager of Entrepreneurship Monique Hector, as well as City Council Member Adrienne Adams, Bishop Mitchell Taylor of Urban Upbound, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship President & CEO J.D. LaRock, and Jars of Delight founder Dianna Rose.
The Center for an Urban Future's five-part forum series also included events focused on the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Brooklyn. CUF has produced extensive research on the opportunity to expand support for underrepresented entrepreneurs in New York City, including Launching Low-Income Entrepreneurs, Starting Later, Breaking Through, and A World of Opportunity.