Center aims to foster growth

Patrick J. Kelly, executive director of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, discusses the new entrepreneur center with Marijean Remington, chief executive officer of Atlantic Testing Laboratories. Susan Mende/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — Hoping to boost St. Lawrence County’s economy, a new program will launch in early September to connect entrepreneurs, business owners and others with mentors who will help them develop strategies for growing their business.

After nearly two years of planning, the St. Lawrence County Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Core Program is ready to start its first eight-month session. It’s modeled on the success of the University of Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership which started 32 years ago.

“We’ll be using mentors from the business field who have been successful and been through the school of hard knocks,” said Marijean Remington, chief executive officer of Atlantic Testing Laboratories. “This is for scaling up businesses, for those that are working to create more revenue, hire more employees.”

So far, about 10 participants from various backgrounds have signed up. They will meet weekly in the evening at the county’s Industrial Development Agency’s building on Commerce Street. Each student will work with their own mentor and also receive feedback from experts in different areas such as human resources and accounting.

Different topics will be covered during the weekly workshops including finance and cash management, mergers and acquisitions, succession planning, innovation and creative problem solving, strategic vision, work/life, marketing and public relations, brand strategy development, corporate culture development, human resource concepts, fear and risk management and time management techniques.

IDA Director Patrick J. Kelly said the program is geared for established businesses including manufacturers, construction contractors, farms, not-for-profit service agencies, retail and service businesses.

”For 32 years, the UB-CEL has conducted this highly successful program for Western New York businesses, graduating more than 1,400 business owners that today represent over 24,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in combined revenues in the community,” Mr. Kelly said.

Goals include helping established businesses grow, become more profitable, find and keep good employees and manage business transitions.

The STL-CEL Core program involves several partners including the University of Buffalo’s School of Management, the New York Power Authority, SUNY Canton, the IDA and other partners.

“The partners believe that establishing the CEL program here in St. Lawrence County will help improve the region’s business environment,” Mr. Kelly said.

The idea for the center was prompted by the results of the economic development study commissioned by NYPA and the goals of the county’s comprehensive economic development strategy.

The $10 million NYPA study was required as part of NYPA’s relicensing agreement to access St. Lawrence River hydro power from the FDR power dam.

Following the study, the Small Working Group, conducted a series of focus groups and mixers to gather feedback from business leaders.

That feedback showed that business leaders wanted professional development programs and a platform for peer-to-peer networking.

Keith Hayes, senior vice president of NYPA’S Clean Energy Solutions, said NYPA has been working with regional stakeholders to implement a connected set of economic development strategies and initiatives to help recharge St. Lawrence County’s economy.

“This is a clear example of what NYPA anticipated when we commissioned the economic development study a few years ago,” he said.

Active partners in the Small Business Working Group include University at Buffalo, NYPA, the IDA, SUNY Canton, Atlantic Testing Laboratories, the county chamber, Community Bank NA, Clarkson University, SUNY Potsdam, St. Lawrence University, Point Positive, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Office of Economic Development and Thew Associates Land Surveyors.

For more information about the center, fee to participate on other information, contact the IDA at 315-379-9806.

THE GIST OF IT

n WHAT: St. Lawrence County Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership has been formed

n WHEN: The program starts in September and will connect local business owners and entrepreneurs with mentors who can help them develop growth strategies

n MORE INFO: Contact Industrial Development Development Agency at 315-379-9806

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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