About Us and From Us


Press About Us

Niagara Frontier Publications: November 12, 2022

“WEDI has an incredible track record of supporting aspiring entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds,” Higgins said. “The recent fire at West Side Bazaar was devastating for the small businesses operating there and heartbreaking for the community. These funds will help WEDI continue to do what it does best, launch new businesses and sustain them, all over the region.”

Spectrum News: October 12, 2022

For 11 years, the West Side Bazaar stood on Grant Street as a center of cultural exchange. Four retail stores and seven restaurants are now left without a place to do business after a fire broke out on September 20.

WGRZ Channel 2 News: September 22, 2022

After an accidental fire caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage Tuesday morning, the West Side Bazaar is searching for kitchens for its restaurants to use temporarily.

September 20, 2022

Fire shuts down West Side Bazaar

One of Buffalo’s popular places to eat international foods and shop local is shutting down following a fire early Tuesday morning. Flames swept through the West Side Bazaar building at 25 Grant Street. Smoke and water caused damage to restaurants, clothing, and jewelry vendors.

WGRZ Channel 2 News

WKBW Channel 7 News

WIVB Channel 4 News

Spectrum News


National Trust Community Investment Corporation: September 13, 2022

The West Side Bazaar expansion project represents the eleventh and final investment supported by NTCIC’s current Irvin Henderson Main Street Revitalization Fund. This fund provides $2 – 4 million in innovative NMTCs for smaller-scale historic rehabilitation projects, maximizing the benefits of both credits within the transaction and helping offset the transaction costs by connecting projects to an experienced team of real estate professionals that understand the needs of small deal financing and provides the NMTC financing in a structure that has no origination or sponsor fees.

 August 30, 2022

Construction begins on new West Side Bazaar

Construction on the $11.5 million project to move the Bazaar to Niagara Street is now underway. The West Side Bazaar will move from its 3,200 square-foot home on Grant Street to an old factory with more than 16,000 square feet. The project has been in the works since March of 2021.


WGRZ Channel 2 News

WKBW Channel 7 News

Buffalo News

WGRZ Channel 2: August 30, 2022

Executive Director Carolynn Welch speaks with Channel 2's Andrew Wooten about the expansion of the West Side Bazaar and its impact on the community.

Buffalo Business First: August 17, 2022

West Side Bazaar lands $925K from Erie County for expansion

The Westminster Economic Development Initiative received $925,000 from Erie County to expand its West Side Bazaar project. The agency is among 36 grantees tapped by the Erie County Cultural Capital Grant Program.


WGRZ Channel 2 News

Buffalo Business First

Buffalo News: June 7, 2022

Neighborhood revitalization experts say thriving businesses with ownership in the community are key to bringing blocks back. If you’d like to help aid long-term improvement of the economic conditions on Buffalo’s East Side and elsewhere, spending more money at Black-owned businesses there will help.

WKSU Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio: May 20, 2022

In an interview with Buffalo News, Carolynn Welch, executive director of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative, said the immigrant and refugee population has revitalized certain neighborhoods like Grant Street. “The community has become a safer community,” she said. “We've seen the economy grow as opposed to continuing to stagnate.”

May 9, 2022

West Side Bazaar to receive $950k in federal funding

Monday, Congressman Brian Higgins announced $950,000 in federal funding for the West Side Bazaar. The new space is expected to see the number of small businesses double from 12 to 24 and will include seats for almost two hundred people and a new kitchen. Construction is expected to start this summer with an opening date sometime next year.

WGRZ Channel 2 News

WKBW Channel 7 News


Spectrum News


Niagara Frontier Publications

Buffalo News: May 7, 2022

Several projects remain in the works, Somers said. Westminster Economic Development Initiative has committed to opening a microfinance office on Bailey Avenue, and Urban Fruits & Veggies intends to start a hydroponic garden in the neighborhood.

Smiley News: May 5, 2022

Coming to a new country already has its own host of challenges, and the circumstance of that migration may pile on more. In a country like the United States, breaking into business and expanding work can often be hard for those that don’t have a background in the country or credit to support them. The West Side Bazaar, a food court in Buffalo, is looking to change that.

Bon Appétit: April 25, 2022

Unlike the grain silos and Buffalo’s eponymous hot sauce-slicked wings, the West Side Bazaar was born of 21st-century Buffalo. Inside, instead of videos and DVDs, you’ll find floor-to-ceiling racks of imports: patterned silks, beaded necklaces, and jewel-tone tops embroidered with gold thread that shimmers under fluorescent light. Restaurants flank the opposite side of the bazaar, and the scent of Sudanese sambusas and Chinese shrimp-pork shumai fills the large market.

Buffalo Business First: March 1, 2022

The 11th annual class was narrowed down from nearly 150 nominations, meaning that only 20% of those nominated made the cut, including WEDI's Senior Director, Economic Development, Yanush Sanmugaraja.

Buffalo Business First: February 18, 2022

Fifteen people and seven organizations were chosen from nearly 50 nominations for championing diversity and inclusion. Among those: Westminster Economic Development Initiative of Buffalo.

USA Today: February 9, 2022

In some of America’s smaller Rust Belt cities, refugees once piecing their own lives back together have helped boost struggling economies.

Buffalo News: February 7, 2022

The population of the Buffalo Niagara region is growing again – and it's flipping
many of the basic underpinnings of the local economy.

Buffalo News: February 5, 2022

For more than five years, Carolynn Welch, executive director of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative, has had a front-row seat watching how immigrants have shaped and enriched the City of Buffalo.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: January 10, 2022 

Across the nation, the results of the 2020 census were the source of hand-wringing and political debate. But in Western New York, they were cause for unbridled celebration.

Spectrum News: January 4, 2022 

The West Side Bazaar is known as a melting pot of business owners from around the globe, but many of those entrepreneurs had to rebuild following a burglary in late November. Please note that Carolynn Welch is the executive director of WEDI, not Erin St. John Kelly, who is the Director of External Relations.

Press Releases from us

August 15, 2022

On Friday, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced that WEDI will receive $925,000 for its planned move and expansion of the West Side Bazaar. WEDI has been raising capital campaign funds for building the new Bazaar since March 2021.

December 9, 2021

The $7.5 million capital campaign is now past the halfway mark with contributions from M&T Bank, The John R. Oishei Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

Press Releases about us

November 10, 2022

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced that WEDI received two federal grants totaling $375,000. A grant for $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement will continue support for refugee-owned microenterprises. Another $125,000 grant is allocated through the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CFDI) fund.

August 30, 2022

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced construction has begun on a $11.5 million project to create a new and significantly expanded West Side Bazaar. Founded by the Westminster Economic Development Initiative in 2011, the West Side Bazaar small business incubator quickly became a popular shopping and dining destination for locals and tourists searching for unique food and retail opportunities.

August 12, 2022

August 12, 2022

Art and cultural institutions of all sizes across Erie County will soon be seeing capital improvements following the investment of over $8.6 million in new county funding to support these organizations’ efforts, the initial investments of a $25 million initiative announced by Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz in his 2022 State of the County address.

July 19, 2022

Buffalo’s West Side Bazaar, a program of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI), secured Historic and New Markets Tax Credit equity from Monarch Private Capital with which to invest in its multicultural community hub that supports small business owners.

May 9, 2022

“Small businesses, including these operated by Western New York’s immigrant and refugee population, enrich our community culturally and economically,” said Congressman Higgins. “This federal funding secured for WEDI will be critical in completing the West Side Bazaar expansion project, which will allow the organization to serve a greater number of up-and-coming, traditionally underserved entrepreneurs in the Western New York community.” 

August 16, 2021

KeyBank, in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation, is donating $1.5 million to support the Westminster Economic Development Initiative's new West Side Bazaar Project. This transformative gift is part of KeyBank's $40 billion National Community Benefits Plan and is symbolic of the bank's longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

July 29, 2021

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the approval of H.R. 4502, a package of seven appropriation bills making investments in federal programs and initiatives including infrastructure, education, small business, and job opportunity, among other priorities for America and Western New York, including $950,000 for the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) to support the expansion of the West Side Bazaar. Watch the announcement or read the press release.

June 29, 2021

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced federal legislation, which includes $1.7 million to help small businesses in Western New York, has crossed an initial legislative hurdle. A House Appropriations subcommittee approved a bill including $950,000 for the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) to support the expansion of the West Side Bazaar and $750,000 for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at SUNY Buffalo State to help small businesses in Western New York expand e-commerce and grow an online presence.