BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Nine entrepreneurs have graduated from the inaugural Allstate Entrepreneur Support program, which brings business owners together to help transform Buffalo’s Kensington-Bailey business district.
The program is a partnership between the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), the Bailey Avenue Business Association (BABA) and UB’s Office of Government and Community Relations.
Entrepreneurs enrolled in the Allstate Entrepreneur Support program benefited from seminars, networking, mentoring and additional resources to help grow their businesses. The group met on select Wednesdays from March through July at the Gerard Place education building.
This pilot program was modeled after the successful Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs program (MWEE), a joint venture with the CEL and UB’s Center for Urban Studies. The CEL has run the program since 2004, and The Allstate Foundation has funded it since 2005.
However, instead of having business owners come to the CEL, as they do for the MWEE program, the program brought the meetings into the community. In addition to the added convenience, the program helps create a support network between neighboring businesses to create a larger impact in the area.
Darrell Shepherd, owner of Shepherd’s Liquor, says the program has helped him to focus on his business’s goals and objectives, both in the long and short term.
“I just joined a gym and, when you first start there, they give you an hour with a personal trainer,” says Shepherd. “This class is like having a personal trainer for an entrepreneur.”
A graduation ceremony and reception were held on Aug. 4 at Imperial Plaza in the heart of the business district. After graduation, participants will continue to receive mentoring, improvements to their business locations, marketing and business support.
This year’s graduates include Sheila Clency, owner, Crowns of Glory; Civic Davis, owner, New Style Records; Paul Diamond, owner, Bailey’s Furniture; Pearl Hammond, owner, West African International; Damone Henderson, owner, Barber Business; Brian Lewis, owner, Zion’s Beauties; Hyacinth Patterson, owner, Caribbean Experience; Darrell Shepherd, owner, Shepherd’s Liquor; and Annette Watts, owner, Ann Rhod’s Tailoring.
Tom Ulbrich, assistant dean and executive director of the CEL, says the program will continue to add businesses in the Kensington-Bailey district, and will explore options for future expansion in other city districts.
“Supporting local entrepreneurs is a critical component of economic development that often gets ignored,” says Ulbrich. “We sometimes have to remind people of the huge impact these independent businesses have on the local economy—as these businesses grow, the community prospers; as the community prospers, business grows.”
Ibrahim Cisse, president of the BABA, works closely with businesses in the Kensington-Bailey area.
“Businesses in this community don’t always have the opportunity to take classes and learn about essential business functions like profits and losses, merchandising and marketing,” says Cisse. “The Allstate program provides these entrepreneurs with a stable foundation they can use to grow.”
The Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by subsidiaries of Allstate Insurance Corp., provides philanthropic grants to nonprofit organizations. With a focus on teen safe driving and building financial independence for domestic violence survivors, The Allstate Foundation also promotes safe and vital communities; tolerance, inclusion and diversity; and economic empowerment.
Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More than 1,200 CEL alumni employ more than 22,000 Western New Yorkers, and their businesses are worth more than $2 billion to the local economy. For more information, visit mgt.buffalo.edu/cel.
The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.