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December 14, 2011

SU’s South Side Innovation Center receives support to train entrepreneurs for clean energy sector

SU’s South Side Innovation Center receives support to train entrepreneurs for clean energy sector

New program to put residents of Syracuse’s South Side and others on career pathway to employability and entrepreneurship

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced today that it is providing funding to Syracuse University’s South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) for a pilot program to put aspiring entrepreneurs on the path to start businesses in the clean energy sector.

Beginning in winter 2012, the six-month pilot will provide training in computer literacy, energy efficiency techniques and standards, financial literacy and other issues important to successful entrepreneurship.

“The entrepreneurial training program provides a solid foundation for people who choose to develop their skills and opportunities as entrepreneurs rather than working for others,” says Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA. “Funding of the South Side Innovation Center program will provide career pathways to jobs that not only help improve energy efficiency, but reduce energy costs and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.”

“NYSERDA’s partnership in this inventive SSIC pilot program will broaden and deepen its impact,” says Syracuse University Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “SSIC’s expansive collaboration—which exemplifies SU’s approach to cross-sector, reciprocal engagement—is tapping our region’s cumulative expertise in both sustainable technologies and entrepreneurship. Bringing NYSERDA’s expertise in clean energy to this winning combination makes it that much stronger.”

With collaborations with Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC), the National Association of Minority Contractors Upstate Chapter (NAMC-Upstate) and Onondaga Community College’s energy efficiency training and certification program (part of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Building Science network) and others, the first-year program will have a significant reach.

“This public-private-university collaboration is the kind of focusing of resources that will help develop an economic resurgence in Central New York,” says Debbie L. Sydow, president of Onondaga Community College. “Onondaga stands as a willing and committed partner to this collaboration.”

“We are delighted to be working with Syracuse University, NYSERDA, SSIC and others on this program,” says Steve Lefebvre, president of Empire ABC. “It holds great promise for development of new jobs and opportunities in this clean energy sector, something our members are very interested in. This is a unique and exciting program.”

“The collaboration with the National Association of Minority Contractors-Upstate Chapter demonstrates SSIC’s continued commitment to developing opportunities for minority entrepreneurs in this area,” says Shawan East, director of NAMC. “We have enjoyed a strong partnership with the incubator and look forward to this collaboration.”

“In a challenging economy, it’s no surprise that many people are exploring new directions and career possibilities,” says Bob Herz, director of the SSIC. “The NYSERDA program provides a tremendous opportunity to move forward in another pathway.”

SSIC, the region’s general business incubator, is recruiting individuals in neighborhoods particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. Applicants will be tested to determine business and construction skills. SSIC’s targeted program provides services, training, technical assistance and counseling for these individuals based on needs. The program will also introduce participants to successful entrepreneurs from the region.

NYSERDA is supporting the training development and implementation with approximately $24,000 in funding. It is expected to train a minimum of 10 individuals in the next six months, and potentially more. The program prepares participants for more advanced technical training through the several resident programs at SSIC, including the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program Center, the WISE Women’s Business Center, SBAPRIME and the South Side Innovation Center Academy. The value of the training is estimated at in excess of $3,500 per individual, excluding overhead and support costs. The additional support is being provided by SSIC and SU.

NYSERDA works with more than 50 training partners across New York state to support energy efficiency and renewable energy programs approved by the NYS Public Service Commission. Since 2006, NYSERDA has provided $34 million to train more than 11,000 New Yorkers for jobs across the clean energy spectrum, including home energy efficiency, multifamily building efficiency, commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy, such as photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind, small wind, geothermal and fuel cell technologies.

SSIC provides a full range of services and facilities to new and current entrepreneurs, including office space and equipment, intensive hands-on training and counseling, roundtables, networking, classroom courses, business plan development, access to loans, marketing assistance and help in opening markets. It was launched by SU’s Whitman School of Management in April 2006 to make university resources available in the community.

On average, SSIC annually provides hands-on counseling, training and mentoring to about 1,500 existing and aspiring entrepreneurs, including 600-900 new and early stage entrepreneurs, incubates 27 businesses which develop on a three-year timeline (period of residency), assists at least 10 percent of total clientele in creating a business entity, of which at least 30-50 begin operating within that 12-month period, provides assistance to another 75–120 existing companies, and creates a minimum of 50 new jobs.

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