A program starting soon will partner those who operate businesses in St. Lawrence County with mentors who successfully grew their operations.

Participants in the St. Lawrence County Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Core Program will spend the next eight months studying various strategies to helping their businesses thrive. This idea mirrors the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, begun three decades ago by the University of Buffalo. The St. Lawrence County program took two years to develop.

“We’ll be using mentors from the business field who have been successful and been through the school of hard knocks,” Marijean D. Remington, chief executive officer of the Canton-based Atlantic Testing Laboratories, said in a story published Aug. 24 by the Watertown Daily Times. “This is for scaling up businesses, for those that are working to create more revenue, hire more employees.”

Participants will meet weekly in the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency’s facility in Canton. They will interact on a regular basis with their respective mentors and hear from people with expertise in various aspects of the business world.

“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,” the Times story reported. “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 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,” according to the story. “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 program has tremendous potential. Participants will study ways to expand their businesses and learn from those who have succeeded in this endeavor.

IDA Director Patrick J. Kelly said the University of Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership has benefited Western New York. It has graduated more than 1,400 business owners over the past 32 years; this represents 24,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in combined revenues in the region, he said.

There are many strategies common to businesses across the nation. But it also will help to focus on the challenges unique to St. Lawrence County that entrepreneurs have confronted.

As we share a border with another country, attracting customers from Canada has been essential for many business operations in Northern New York. Hearing from individuals who have succeeded in doing so would prove rewarding for those seeking to build on their client base.

We commend those who have organized this program and wish its first class of participants success. This will hopefully boost the local economy and create more opportunities for employers and workers alike.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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