FULTON, NY – SUNY Oswego’s Small Business Development Center held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.
The new e-commerce incubator and temporary outreach office, located in the Lower Falls Building, 34 S. First St., will assist displaced workers who want to start new small businesses.
The center is “extremely important,” said Jeff Grimshaw, director of Office of Business and Community Relations at SUNY Oswego. “Everybody is talking about jobs – we’re talking jobs real life here.”
The facility will allow people to come “and really get into what their passion is in life as far as starting a business and getting involved,” he said.
The ($100,000) portable assistance grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration is just that, he explained, “a portable opportunity for people to get into business. We look forward to seeing many successful people going through this space in the next six months.”
He recognized all the partners in the project.
Besides Lower Falls Development and the Watertown Regional SBDC, SUNY Oswego’s Small Business Development Center is partnering with Fulton’s Community Development Agency and Operation Oswego County to open the temporary advisement center in Fulton.
“This is just not one organization attempt. This is truly what should take place when you are starting a business,” he said.
“It’s great to see so many people here; so many people interested in this type of activity,” added SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley. “The ivory tower is long gone. We know that our economy is threatened, especially in the Fulton area, which has lost more than 2,000 manufacturing jobs over the last 10 years. It’s incredible to think about a small community suffering in that way.”
Still, so many people still call Fulton home and are hoping that the area comes back because the quality of life “is so wonderful here,” she said.
This program is all about people exploring their potential, she said.
“They have made a commitment to stay in the area; they are thinking to their futures and the futures of all of us are intertwined. This is a wonderful collaborative grant, a collaborative endeavor and it can only be successful that way,” she said. “We’re not really the host. We’re a part of this. We are all doing this together.”
Bernard Paprocki, Syracuse SBA district director, echoed those sentiments.
“At SBA, we have a lot of programs. None of these things happen without good partnerships. This is a great example of folks coming together locally to take advantage of the resources that are available through the SBA and put them to work right here on the ground in order to meet the needs of the small; business community, and our local economic development efforts,” he pointed out.
He pledged SBA’s resources to help ensure the program succeeds. And, to make it a good model that can be used in other parts of the SBA district.
“We cover 34 counties out of our office here in Syracuse. There is no way that a half dozen of us here in Syracuse can get that done,” he said. “So, you have now opened up the channels to receive help and information and resources and loans that are available through our entire network right here in Fulton, New York.”
Senator Patty Ritchie is very excited about this opportunity for Fulton residents “who have suffered so many devastating blows in the last few years, especially with the Birdseye closing,” according to her local representative, Holly Carpenter.
“I think it’s wonderful that you have this partnership. Just looking around the room you have representatives from the federal government, you have people here from the state, here from the college, you have people from private business,” Assemblyman Will Barclay pointed out. “Fulton has obviously suffered a lot of setbacks in the last several years. They need a partnership like this.”
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward said he was thrilled and appreciated seeing so many people come together to benefit Fulton.
“I believe that in our city, not only our city but our country and state, the economy is going to be revived by entrepreneurs and small business,” he said. “I think the days of manufacturing, where you got four generations that spent their whole life in a place like Nestles are gone. A whole lot of things that we can’t control got to change to make that come back. There comes a time when you have to say, ‘Hey, we need to do something different and move on.’ This country was built on small business.”
“Instead of us licking our wounds because everyone is gone, I think this is what we need to do,” he continued. “And, I am thrilled to see so much talent in this room … It gives my people and my city some hope. Somebody cares. We’re not just ignored, even though we feel that way some times; we know that’s not the truth.”
Chena Tucker will lead the outreach office for the SBDC, offering one-on-one business advisement.
It is a privilege to be a part of helping others achieve their goals and dreams, Tucker said.
“(The partners) are all supporting the same mission, the same vision together,” she said.
Within a 300-mile radius of Fulton, there are 25 million people, she said.
“I think about OK, here we are in Fulton and we have all that potential; if there is something you’d like to sell or a service you’d like to provide – 25 million people is a great opportunity. So that really inspires me,” she said. “It’s not just next door or locally who can drive to your facility, with e-commerce you really have a huge network out there,” Tucker said.
The new e-commerce incubator is complete with Internet-connected computers for training and startup.
Tucker will provide the displaced workers with advice and training on starting a small business.
Workshops will include the new course “What Business Should I Start?” It will feature a skills and interests assessment that can help point people to a business that “fits” and which can be commercialized.
The center will hold a free open house on Thursday. It is open to the public from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
At 4:30 p.m. Dec. 15, the small business outreach center has scheduled a workshop based on the Rhonda Abrams bestseller, “What Business Should I Start? Seven Steps to Discovering the Ideal Business for You.”
Space is limited for the free workshop. To register, call 312-3492.
For more information, email [email protected]