Life-long East Side resident looks to build a banquet facility and collaborate with local businesses

Please tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Ramona Edwards Griffin. I was born and raised on the East Side of Buffalo and lived there for most of my life. Right now, I’m retired. I worked for 15 years as a seamstress. I also went to beauty school — was a cosmetologist for a couple of years. I’m married and have four biological children. I started doing foster care and ended up adopting the last four children that I cared for. So I’m starting all over again.

Tell us about your project.

I own 349 Broadway near the African American Corridor. It is a multi-use building that will house a banquet facility for catering, weddings, parties and other social gatherings. My project will benefit the community by creating a space for collaboration and community events and gatherings. I would like to collaborate with the Colored Musicians Club and other local businesses.

What have you learned from the class and how is it going to help you to complete your goals?

The classes were very understandable, and the instructors were very willing and attentive. I learned how to utilize resources that I can apply to developing a building and running a business, such as identifying property values, networking, zoning, printing, creating effective worksheets and spreadsheets, calculating assessments, liabilities, and trademarking.

Were there networking opportunities?

We get together and talk with each other; call each other on the phone. I have called when I get stuck on something or get a call when someone couldn’t remember something. Some of the men have their own businesses in the trades like plumbing and electrical. It was good to work with them because now we know who could help us along the way.

Would you recommend this class to other people?

Oh yes, I would, because it’s something that will help other people interested in developing commercial properties. I would say this program will provide them with the necessary knowledge and tools that will prepare them for being aspiring developers.

What are your immediate next steps?

My immediate next steps are to wait for the construction to start on my building. Once it gets started and up to code, we’re going to move forward on taking on each of the projects that I want to do in the building.

This is going to generate wealth for my children. Because all of them are workers. They’ve been working 15, 20 years on their jobs and they want to have something to do afterwards. My kids are very talented. My daughter does “paint and sip.” My son plays drums with the Colored Musicians club. They could collaborate and do parties and events. My other three sons also want to do event planning. I have one son that was adopted. He’s graduating from culinary school to become a chef. So are we going to try to get a café. Probably the first thing we are going to work on is getting up and running because then we can do banquets and parties and weddings, et cetera.

What is your vision for the East Side?

My vision for the East Side is to see it revitalized and to bring a sense of community back. Moreover, I would like the businesses to be a big part of it. Because now if you get something new, maybe other people might start collaborating with us and spread this good vibe to the other parts of Buffalo. The community as a whole can benefit.

Is there anything else you want to add?

I’m just really ready to get going. I’m ready to graduate and get my kids going because, like I said generating revenue is the main thing. They can continue what I was doing and build wealth for their children and their children’s children, you know?