Help for Syracuse-area small businesses ready for next level growth

Local News

The U.S. Small Business Administration is looking for the next group of small business owners in the Syracuse area looking to take things to the next level.

They are now taking applications for the 9th year of the free ‘Emerging Leaders’ program.

Mello Velo in Syracuse is one of the recent graduates of the program.

Started in 2009 by Steve and Sara Morris in a cramped store in Syracuse’s Westcott neighborhood, the bike shop quickly needed to grow.

“We pretty much needed to hire employees our first season.  It just became impossible to do our jobs well.  It was just so inefficient,” Sara Morris tells NewsChannel 9.

Very early on they had added food to the bike repair operation and not long after started the search for a new space.

About the same time Morris discovered the ‘Emerging Leaders’ program.

Bernard Paprocki is the District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

He says, “What we’re trying to do is grow jobs, grow the economy, grow small businesses here in Central New York.”

It’s a program of 13 intensive classes of three hours each over seven months along with homework.

It’s not aimed at startups or businesses in trouble, but owners looking to get to the next level.

Morris says, “So from financials to employees to marketing, all those things are really important and easy to get pushed aside when you have multiple fires to put out on a day to day basis.”

It came just at the right time for Mello Velo, which had just purchased a new space in need of a good deal of renovation.

It’s fully renovated and has plenty of room for the bike shop and cafĂ©.

The red and lime green building is hard to miss at the corner of Canal and Walnut Streets and Erie Boulevard in Syracuse.

Paprocki says, “This was a result of their strategic growth plan that they developed through the Emerging Leaders program.” 

Morris adds, “I mean it definitely does give you the tools and I do feel empowered now that I could just build off that plan.”

Click here for more information about the ‘Emerging Leaders’ program.

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