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Cayuga CC receives grant from Coleman Foundation to launch Entrepreneurial Road Trip program

DATE: 11-19-2011

Few things are as compelling as hearing people share their stories of how they pursued their dreams and achieved success. Their stories inspire us to believe in ourselves and give us the boost to begin working toward our own vision for our futures. Within this context, we are motivated to learn what steps we will need to take to create our own paths. The Entrepreneurial Road Trip and Boot Camp, sponsored by Cayuga Community College, provides the forum for such interactions and learning to happen.

Supported by a $5,000 grant from the Coleman Foundation, the College is hosting a series of three road trips that take students and community members to area businesses that fall into one of a few industrial clusters in the region, including agribusiness, hospitality and tourism, and manufacturing.

"The College's goal is to be a focal point of revitalization of the region's economy, through promotion of entrepreneurship in all its forms," said Thomas Paczkowski, Fred L. Emerson Endowed Chair in Enterprise and Innovation. "Participants will develop a greater understanding of business opportunities within the county. They will also have access to the resources available at the College and within the community, which will provide assistance in the organization and management of new and existing businesses."

On the first trip in October, a group of 25 participants visited New Hope Mills, Twin Birch Farms, Anyela's Winery, and Beak and Skiff Orchards to meet with local entrepreneurs and learn about the agricultural and food business in Central New York.

A second trip on February 15 will focus on the region's growing hospitality and tourism industry with stops planned at the Seward House, MacKenzie-Childs, and the Aurora Inn. The third trip scheduled for March 22 will include stops at three area manufacturers to hear how they got started, have grown their business, and how they are managing today.

Each of the upcoming day trips costs $19 and is open to anyone in the community interested learning more about these local entrepreneurs and the industry sectors that play a big part of the regional economy.

Following the visitations, all participants—students, community members and entrepreneurs alike—will have an opportunity to engage in additional credit or credit-free course work where they will begin to develop or more fully implement their business ideas.

A boot camp-style series of seminars and entrepreneur forums, coordinated by John Liddy of Syracuse University throughout the spring semester, will focus on topics of interest to the budding entrepreneurs. Community entrepreneurs can participate in panel discussions and have access to the mentor team, made up of innovators and successful business people in the agribusiness, tourism and hospitality, and manufacturing industries.

"This project brings together students, practitioners, community members, and educators to create a lively and engaging environment that is conducive to learning and that will foster the synergy needed to jumpstart entrepreneurial activity within the community," said Sheila Myers, coordinator of experiential learning. "By focusing the Road Trips on three specific industrial sectors, the College exposes future entrepreneurs to these markets and helps provide them with a roadmap to finding success in the region."

The College also received an additional $1,500 grant from the Coleman Foundation to create a video that documents the project. Telecommunications Professor Steve Keeler will work with students to produce this video throughout the year.

For more information about the Entrepreneurial Road Trip and Boot Camp experience, visit www.cayuga-cc.edu/communityed.