New York on Wednesday selected Social Equity Impact Ventures, LLC to manage the state’s $200 million Social Equity Investment Fund which will assist social equity licensees with costs associated with getting their businesses off the ground.
Social Equity Impact Ventures is headed by National Basketball Association Hall of Famer Chris Webber, entrepreneur Lavetta Willis, and a firm affiliated with Siebert Williams Shank (SWS), one of the nation’s leading minority- and women-owned investment banking firms, that will be led by SWS CEO Suzanne Shank and SWS Chief Administrative Officer and former New York City Comptroller William Thompson.
Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in a statement that tabbing the organization “takes an important step forward in creating jobs and opportunity for those who, historically, have been disproportionately targeted for cannabis infractions.”
In a press release, Webber, who is also the founder of Webber Wellness, said “New York’s thoughtful and inclusive approach to establishing equity in the cannabis space and creating opportunities for those affected by the War on Drugs is truly unparalleled.”
“Together, we look forward to starting the healing process within the community nationwide and it starts by giving aspiring entrepreneurs in this state the education, resources and training to thrive in the cannabis sector. Our hope is that New York’s holistic approach can be replicated in other markets and help accelerate the growth of underrepresented businesses across the country.” — Webber in a statement
Shank described the fund as “a key tool to help level the playing field during New York State’s licensing and siting of cannabis retail dispensaries across the state,” adding that the “regulatory design will help disadvantaged entrepreneurs to compete fairly.”
Hochul also announced new members to the state’s Cannabis Advisory Board which will work with the Office of Cannabis Management to establish an equitable and inclusive cannabis industry in the Empire State. The panel now includes 20 members ranging from cannabis industry executives, state agriculture officials, attorneys, union representatives, and community-focused organizations.