If you have always wanted to become an entrepreneur, or dreamed of running your own business and taking charge of your economic future, here’s your chance. A limited number of applications are being accepted to become a resident business client at the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC), the region’s premier business incubator for emerging, startup and mature businesses. SSIC is a project of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.
SSIC does not have tenants, or offer leases, both terms suggestive of rentals within an office building. Instead, SSIC has resident business clients, to which it offers three-year licenses. Resident business clients are expected to participate in programs at SSIC, use center services and grow their businesses within the three-year timeline.
SSIC’s client-centric, hands-on approach to entrepreneurship begins with an in-depth assessment of personal and entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses, and development of a plan to improve strengths and ameliorate weaknesses in classes, networking, discussions and counseling. Services and programs include everything from initial exploration of an entrepreneurial idea to business plan development; training at SSIC Academy; help in business entity creation and obtaining M/WBA and Disadvantaged Business certification; and aid in obtaining credit loans. SSIC also sponsors programs on procurement and market access assistance. In addition, SSIC has membership arrangements with Centerstate CEO and an affordable health care plan, HealthCore.
Office spaces are typically 100-300 square feet and include furniture, computer, Internet access and local telephone services. The fee for the 100-square-foot office starts at $126.75 per month. SSIC provides clients free parking, 24/7 access and 24-hour security. The facility also houses a 500-square-foot, fully stocked kitchen to serve food industry entrepreneurs.
The resident client application process is simple. Contact SSIC at (315) 443-8466, fill out an application, demonstrate progress in completing a business plan and agree to participate in SSIC programs. The typical residency period is three years. Space is limited, and applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
“If you’ve had an idea you always wanted to develop, or are a company that needs to grow, here’s an opportunity to use services and programs that help take you to that next step,” says Bob Herz, SSIC director. “Our mission is to help create jobs and wealth in this region and our view is that we are not successful unless our residents and clients are. We do whatever it takes to help make that happen.”
Margaret Butler, who manages the SSIC facility and some of its major programs, noted recent news stories stating that a broader measure of nationwide unemployment, including those who have given up looking for jobs out of frustration and those with part-time work who want a full-time job, rose from 15.8 to 16.2 percent according to June 2011 unemployment numbers.
“In a tough economy like this, if you’re out of work, or can’t find a job, this is the time to develop your idea, start a company and hire yourself. Someone once said, and it’s true: every day you walk past a million dollars, and no one knows where the next great idea is going to come from. Maybe yours will be that million-dollar idea,” she says.
Since its founding in 2006, SSIC has engaged 4,600 individuals in services; provided 686 people with hands-on counseling, training and mentoring; assisted 831 businesses and created 384 new businesses; aided 300 low-income individuals or individuals with disabilities, helping them register 70 businesses, of which 51 are in operation; helped secure $1.4 million in loans; created 447 jobs and helped retain 123 jobs; and engaged companies with gross receipts of $31 million.
SSIC’s four resident programs are the WISE Women’s Business Center; Syracuse Community Test Kitchen; Entrepreneurial Assistance Program; Start-Up NY, for entrepreneurs with disabilities (a collaboration with SU’s Burton Blatt Institute); and SBA PRIME (a program for investment in micro-entrepreneurs) for low- and very low-income entrepreneurs.
SSIC was named 2011 runner-up for “Incubator of the Year” at the National Business Incubator Association. The center’s clients and resident programs have also won many awards.