SUNY Canton Entrepreneurship Program Seeks Canton Location

By St. Lawrence Plaindealer

A building hasn’t been picked yet to house SUNY Canton’s proposed $6 million Entrepreneurship Accelerator, but college officials are focusing on downtown sites in order to better integrate the college with the community.

The former Jubilee grocery store in the Midtown Plaza, Miner Street, is just one of several being considered, according to SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran.

“We’re looking at a number of possibilities,” Mr. Szafran said. “We would like to have a downtown site because we think there are a lot of nice advantages to that. The Jubilee space is one of the places.”

The project involves providing a joint class/office space for new business owners and space for college students to prototype their new ideas. It will also be open to community members, including area middle and high school students.

“It helps people go from ideas to prototypes to creating business plans,” Mr. Szafran said. “A step may be to create a virtual business and then an actual business.”

The plan also involves creating “co-worker” space for people who already have an established business, possibly in their homes, but may be looking for a more professional setting.

Lenore E. VanderZee, SUNY Canton executive director of university relations, said there are many advantages to developing the vacant Jubilee space. She cited the building’s central location, and the chance to upgrade the old building from its existing condition.

“Certainly our preference is to have a downtown location, but in terms of specifically where, we’re pretty open,” Ms. VanderZee said. “One reason we really like the idea of downtown is that it brings our students in the community. It gives the opportunity for collaboration and cooperation and I think it helps students see this as a place they can stay to start their own business and make a life.”

Besides choosing a space, the college has to secure more grant funding to move forward with the project. Last week, the college was awarded $111,326 toward the accelerator from the Northern Border Regional Commission. That money is earmarked for furnishings and equipment such as computers and 3D printers.

College officials are seeking three more grants to help fund various aspects of the project.

The amount of funding obtained for the project will also help determine which building site is pursued. It’s not decided yet whether the space will be leased or purchased, Mr. Szafran said.

Even if the building is purchased, it’s unlikely that SUNY Canton would be the owner, he said.

“This is a complicated project and there are a lots of moving parts that we’re working on at the same time,” Mr. Szafran said.

The college is modeling its accelerator after one operated by Penn State in New Kensington, Pa., which is also a rural area.

One of the goals is to encourage college students, alumni and others to remain in the north country by helping them develop a business that can thrive here.

“We think that’s part of our mission,” Mr. Szafran said.

n WHAT: SUNY Canton entrepreneurship accelerator

n WHERE: Downtown Canton

n ESTIMATED COST: $6 million

This article provided by NewsEdge.