Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Kelly Homan Rodoski

Entrepreneurs on the City of Syracuse’s South Side now have a hub of resources to tap into as they work to grow and sustain their businesses.

The South Side Innovation Center (SSIC), located at 2610 South Salina Street, in a former Dunk & Bright carpet showroom, officially opened for business Monday, April 24. The SSIC grew out of a broader South Side initiative, the South Side Entrepreneurial Connect Project, which is overseen by the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship in Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management.

Michael Morris, the Witting Chair in Entrepreneurship, explains, “The Whitman School is committed to making an ongoing contribution to entrepreneurial development in our community. Toward this end, the SSIC is envisioned as a dynamic center for business activity and support targeted at current and aspiring entrepreneurs based from the inner city–including minority entrepreneurs, women and others with exciting business ideas.”

“Through the SSIC, we want to spur economic growth and revitalize the South Side at a grassroots level,” says Joe Dickson, SSIC director.

As a business incubator, the SSIC signs tenants who rent professional office space. Services offered to members include providing a business address, access to computer workstations and mailing and faxing services. Above and beyond those services, the SSIC– through the wealth of knowledge and talent of Whitman School faculty and students–mentors aspiring entrepreneurs and works with them on building the skills necessary to establish and sustain successful businesses. The SSIC also has a program through which entrepreneurs who are still working on building their ventures can become virtual SSIC members.

So far, the SSIC has signed three tenants, including Branch’s Driving School. It also has signed up two members. Dickson says potential tenants and members must present a copy of their business plan for review and go through an admissions process.

“We want to make sure that people who come in here have the best chance to succeed,” says Dickson. “We want to ensure the viability of both the plan and the entrepreneur.” Dickson says that if the viability is not evident, the SSIC will work to help the aspiring entrepreneur gain the experience or skills needed.

While the SSIC provides many of the services that are essential to a business, such as space and computers, Dickson says those are simply window dressing. “What really makes an entrepreneur succeed is mentoring and good advice that will help them avoid risks and pitfalls, and to build their skills to be successful,” he adds.

Dickson says that the SSIC is working with the City of Syracuse, the Industrial Development Association, the Metropolitan Development Association and a host of other community development and civic organizations to tap into resources for its tenants and members. He says the contributions of SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor, who earmarked funds to establish the SSIC, and Dunk & Bright President Jim Bright, who is leasing the space to the SSIC, have been invaluable in the establishment of the SSIC.

Entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the SSIC may contact Dickson at (315) 443-8600.

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