Press Releases

NYCEDC Announces 14 Winners of Phase One of the NYC Business Innovation Challenge

Part of the “LINK” Initiative, 14 Winning Businesses Earn $25,000 Each to Implement Innovative Business Plans

Three Grand Prize Winners Will Be Chosen in December to Earn an Additional $100,000


New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the winners of the first phase of the NYC Business Innovation Challenge, which invites businesses to create a plan to  provide their employees with a path to improve skill sets, career prospects, and economic opportunities, while helping the business attain higher employee retention rates, organizational performance and revenues.  The challenge, which was completed in partnership with Next Street, is part of the City’s LINK suite of initiatives, which were announced by Mayor Bloomberg in March.  The winners of the NYC Business Innovation Challenge, who were selected by a panel of judges as the entrants with the most innovative plans, will receive $25,000, as well as advisory services from Next Street in order to implement their plans.  The winning submissions were broken into three tiers, depending on the size of their organization, with up to five companies selected per tier.  

“The Business Innovation Challenge has spurred companies to think creatively about investing in the skill sets of their employees and will lead to growth in a number of sectors,” said NYCEDC Executive Director Kyle Kimball.  “As part of the LINK suite of initiatives, this program will help ensure the success of all employees in the knowledge economy.”    

"Next Street is proud to have directed the NYC Business Innovation Challenge on behalf of NYCEDC," said Ron Walker, Next Street managing partner and president.  "The judges have selected an outstanding group of winning organizations; we look forward to assisting the winners with the implementation of their plans to ensure they are scalable and sustainable over time."    

The 14 winning organizations are:  

Tier 1 (Organizations with more than 250 employees):  

Children’s Aid Society, Manhattan – Children's Aid Society will launch a professional development program for its Assistant Teachers and Teacher Aides that assist the early childhood programming. Assistant Teachers and Teacher Aides are often former parent volunteers from low-income communities. They will pilot the program at two Bronx classroom locations before rolling it out across twelve sites in the New York City area. The training program will allow Children’s Aid Society to deliver a higher-quality educational experience, raise employee satisfaction and reduce costs associated with turnover.  

Cooperative Home Care Associates, Bronx – Cooperative Home Care Associates proposes to partner with Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners to add a financial literacy and savings focus to its training curriculum. The training will benefit both administrative and home health aide staff within the organization in an industry where employees typically have low financial literacy and limited financial stability.  

GVC LTD, Bronx – GVC will institute four-month training programs to help their matrons become certified NYC Board of Education drivers. This program will provide matrons with an opportunity to nearly double their wages. GVC hopes the plan will reduce costs associated with employee turnover and limit the expense of finding backup drivers in last-minute emergencies. Certified bus drivers will also have a commercial driver's license which will open new career opportunities.  

Urban Health Plan, Manhattan – Urban Health Plan will enhance its internship program to source new talent, introduce tuition reimbursement programs to increase the skills of its current workforce, and create online courses and training to help employees earn and maintain industry certifications. The program will help Urban Health Plan attract and retain staff and allow its employees to earn higher wages and grow within the organization.  

Tier 2 (Organizations with 20-250 employees):  

All Natural Products / Davidovich Bakery, Queens - Davidovich Bakery will create an in-house incubator and paid training program to develop artisan bakers.  It plans to hire workers coming through the program into its own organization and to connect those workers with other bakeries who may be looking for talent.  

Build It Green NYC, Queens - Build It Green! NYC plans to train its low- and medium-skill workers to mill salvaged wood into high value products like flooring and furniture.  The plan offers environmental benefits and allows Build It Green! NYC to grow its business by offering new products and providing additional training opportunities for community partners and staff.  

Go Express – AIMessenger, Brooklyn - GoExpress and AIMessenger will design and implement staff training programs for couriers, dispatchers, customer service representatives and accountants to make them proficient in the most up-to-date technologies in the industry.  

Peak Security Plus, Brooklyn - Peak Security Plus wants to identify the most promising low-skilled workers in its organization and provide them with opportunities to earn certifications in the most up-to-date industry standards. The plan will allow Peak Security Plus to compete for contracts in segments of the security industry that it could not access before, and will give its workers new career development opportunities.  

Red Rabbit, New York - Red Rabbit plans to create an in-house culinary skills training center for its cooks during the summer months to help its chefs either continue at Red Rabbit at a promoted organizational and compensation level or transition to a partner catering company by referral from Red Rabbit. The plan hopes to reduce food waste costs and employee turnover costs while boosting organizational efficiency and the quality of the product it serves.  

Tier 3 (Organizations with few than 20 employees):  

Catalyst Coaching & Consulting – Catalyst Coaching & Consulting will open a learning center for workers with a high school education who fall below the poverty line. The learning center curriculum will cover business and computer skills, personal finance, and job search preparedness, as well as other topics to radically broaden the scope of jobs accessible to participants.  The program will combine virtual and in-person sessions to ensure that participants do not have to take time away from their current jobs in order to participate.  

ConstructionKids, Inc., Brooklyn – ConstructionKids plans to develop and formalize its training programs in fabrication and teaching skills for full- and part-time employees, enabling the organization to transition 3-4 part-time staff to full-time staff within the pilot period and offering more hours to its part-time staff as it expands its program offerings.  

Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp., Brooklyn – The SBIDC will launch the SBIDC UpSkills program to help Brooklyn residents develop new skills to contribute to creative manufacturing businesses and help aging workers upgrade their skill sets to meet the demands of evolving manufacturing practices.  The plan will benefit both the employees who gain new skills and industrial businesses in Southwest Brooklyn who can source from the high-skilled local talent pool., Staten Island – will create a 60-day employee onboarding training program for new hires and a management training program to develop talent internally to fill more advanced roles.  The company not only intends to save money on hiring managers, but also to create a stronger company culture by having employees invested in their own success within the organization.   Tyga-Box Systems, Manhattan – Tyga-Box Systems proposed to implement a new tracking technology in their boxes to prevent lost boxes and give their customers better visibility and peace of mind during the moving process.  As part of introducing this new product offering, Tyga-Box will develop a training program for its warehouse personnel that will allow them to command higher wages and have advancement opportunities within the organization.

For phase two of the Challenge, Next Street will assist winning organizations from phase one with the implementation of the plans through a four month pilot phase. At the end of this pilot phase, the original panel of judges will reconvene to evaluate the overall success of the each program based on its impact on the targeted workforce and on the operations and performance the business, the sustainability and scalability of the program, the adaptability of the program across different sized organizations and different industries, and the originality and ingenuity of the idea.  The best of these plans will be named Grand Prize Winners in December 2013 and receive an additional $100,000 and recognition from the City of New York as a Workforce Innovator.  Three winners (one per tier) will be selected as Grand Prize Winners in phase two.    

Announced by Mayor Bloomberg and NYCEDC in March, the LINK suite of initiatives are eight new programs designed to connect low-income New Yorkers with opportunities in the city’s knowledge economy.  The programs are designed to strengthen the skills and employability of New Yorkers with low incomes and to foster business activity that provides employment opportunities for those with less formal training, helping to alleviate key challenges that prevent many from moving up the economic ladder.  The LINK Initiative is designed to increase opportunities for New Yorkers across the five boroughs and is being funded by a partnership between the Economic Development Corporation, the Human Resources Administration and the Center for Economic Opportunity.    

To learn more about the Business Innovation Challenge, visit or follow the challenge on Twitter and on Facebook.


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.


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