Central New York is a great place to start a business with its multitude of organizations available to help both seasoned and budding entrepreneurs get started and grow their businesses. From the U.S. Small Business Administration to the Tech Garden to the many colleges and universities in the area, there is no shortage of assistance available to those with a dream to start their own business.
“Colleges and universities in Central New York have been teaching entrepreneurship courses for more than 15 years, but as we began to work with organizations in the community who are also in the entrepreneurship world, we realized just how many of us are out there providing resources,” says Bruce Kingma, associate provost for entrepreneurship and innovation at Syracuse University.
In an effort to ensure that the best possible assistance is being offered to entrepreneurs, several organizations have come together to collaborate on everything from scheduling annual events to understanding what programs and services exist in the community. The group, the Innovation Roundtable, meets monthly to discuss opportunities for collaboration.
“This collaboration will allow people to enter at any point in Central New York’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and be directed to the most appropriate resource for where they are with their start-up,” says Linda Dickerson Hartsock, vice president for innovation and technology at CenterState CEO, and executive director of the Clean Tech Center. “We will also be able to plan more efficiently so that people will no longer have to choose between three great, but conflicting, business events.”
Among the organizations that are part of the Innovation Roundtable are SU, the Tech Garden, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), CenterState CEO, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Morrisville State College, the Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College, the CNY Technology Development Organization, the South Side Innovation Center, SCORE Counselors to America’s Small Business, Near Westside Initiative and the WISE Center. Now that the group has a defined path forward, the goal is to add more organizations to the collaboration.
“In order to make new ventures successful, we need to foster a collaborative environment for our local entrepreneurs. It is through networking that our entrepreneurs link to resources, generate new ideas and develop innovative products and services that help to sustain our local economy,” says Emad Rahim, assistant professor of Venture Connects at SUNY Morrisville.
Many entrepreneurs, like Quiana Seymour, plan and then start their business with the help of several community organizations, each offering assistance in their area of expertise within the business life cycle. The SBA provides funding to many of the organizations that are part of the Innovation Roundtable to help them provide resources to small businesses.
When Seymour first called the WISE Center, she was experienced in the food and beverage industry, had a passion for food, but had never tried to open her own restaurant. To help Seymour, the WISE Center connected her with several community resources to assist her in sharpening her financial and business plans, tracking her food costs for optimum profit margins, managing personnel and marketing. One of those resources was the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Onondaga Community College, where an advisor assisted Seymour with the development of a business plan and coordinated financing options. WISE also connected Seymour with a local artist to increase the restaurant’s curb appeal. The restaurant, QD’s Diner, opened on Oct. 25, 2009, and since then Seymour continues to be supported by entrepreneurial resource providers in the community, which has led to a steady increase in traffic not only in patrons at her diner, but also in her new catering business, which serves business meetings and luncheons.
Patricia Higgins, director of the Small Business Development Center, agrees that collaboration is the right path forward. “Partnership is the only way to go. The SBDC at Onondaga Community College has been assisting entrepreneurs for 25 years, but through this collaboration we hope to be able to provide a higher and deeper level of resources to aspiring entrepreneurs in our community,” says Higgins.
To learn more about the Innovation Roundtable, contact the ExCEL Center at Syracuse University at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 315-443-7086.