Entrepreneurs complete program launched to help create jobs, improve resources available to grow their businesses

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Jersey Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative trains 50 budding entrepreneurs in north Jersey, funding by Prudential and PNC ensures continuation of project

January 20, 2010 (Newark) – On a bright January day in Newark, 50 beaming entrepreneurs gathered at the Paul Robeson Center on Rutgers-Newark’s campus to celebrate the completion of the Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative which had started back in May 2009. “I will be my own boss,” they cried in unison at the completion of the graduation ceremony. “I work for no one but myself,” they promised.

The first graduating class from the Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative. Photo courtesy of Jus Pray Productions, LLC.

If the economy is to pick up, it will be because of small business owners like these enthusiastic entrepreneurs from north Jersey. “The days of big business running things in this country are over,” said Jeffrey Robinson, PhD, Assistant Professor Management and Global Business at Rutgers Business School, and EPI program director. “You are part of a movement. This is where all the action is going to be. Use what you learned and be successful.”

The 50 business owners were chosen last spring to participate in the New Jersey Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative (EPI) sponsored by the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (CUEED) at Rutgers Business School in partnership with The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Greater Newark Business Development Consortium, and Rutgers-Newark Small Business Development Center.

CUEED launched the EPI to help these young entrepreneurs grow their businesses and create jobs in New Jersey. The program supports business-owners through training, one-on-one counseling, networking opportunities, and access to local financial resources.

"The Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative is an extraordinary opportunity for Rutgers Business School to impact the economy of New Jersey,” said Dr. Robinson. “By helping established entrepreneurs grow their business, we are helping small businesses keep their employees and create new jobs.”

Going through the EPI program has already impacted job growth. Kermick Santos, who operates a Fun Bus in Essex county, which he described as a gym in a bus which is rented out for parties and events by schools and child care programs, hired one full-time and two other part-time employees in the past six months.

“Going through the EPI opened up my eyes to how to run a business and helped me be more confident,” he said. “Just as a result of networking with my colleagues in the program, business started cascading in.” Santos’s business grew 21% in 2009.

Other entrepreneurs expressed similar success and growth. Jason Martin, owner of Jus Pray Photography, hired three new people. “Every single class was relevant to my business right now,” said Martin. “It made me more organized, more efficient, better at marketing, and it was incredible to learn from all these amazing people.” Martin’s company, Jus Pray Productions, LLC, was awarded “Best Business of the Year” in his district by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Back in June 09 owners Lorrie Sanchez and Carol Blank, who started Utterly Global Bullying Prevention, a company dedicated to eliminating bullying in schools, felt like their business was slipping. But after coming into the EPI program, they were inspired. “We believed with the help of EPI, our business would be brought to the next level,” said Sanchez.

"The Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative is an extraordinary opportunity for Rutgers Business School to impact the economy of New Jersey,” said Jeffrey Robinson, PhD, Assistant Professor Management and Global Business at Rutgers Business School, and EPI program director. Photo courtesy of Jus Pray Productions, LLC.

After a session on strategies to convert prospects into clients taught by Dr. Tendai Ndoro, Sanchez and Blank implemented what they learned and ended up winning a $62,000 contract from New York City Family and Youth Services. “There is so much passion from the professors, the trainers and the other business owners, you just feel you can succeed,” said Sanchez. This past year was the most successful year financially for Sanchez and Blank’s company.

Examples of some of the other types of businesses that were supported included: consulting, restaurants, construction and retail. Counties served by the project in the north Jersey region include: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Union, Sussex, and Warren.

Funding for the 2009 initiative was provided by the North Jersey Partners of WIRED through a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. CUEED has received funding from Prudential ($125,000) and PNC Bank ($25,000) to expand the EPI program in 2010.

PNC’s $25,000 commitment to the Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative continues the bank’s long-standing partnership with Rutgers. “PNC has an established relationship with Rutgers that spans athletic sponsorships, economic development programs and, now, an investment in what will stand as the state’s leading business school,” said Linda Bowden, regional president for northern New Jersey, PNC Financial Services Group.

Rutgers Business School focuses on delivering the business, science, and technology credentials that global employers demand. With the direction of its world-class research centers like CUEED, Rutgers Business School maintains its standing as a premier business school with a deep commitment to contributing to economic development.

About Rutgers Business School - Newark and New Brunswick
Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick is an integral part of one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most distinguished institutions of higher learning: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Today, Rutgers Business School is educating more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students at two main campuses in New Jersey as well as six satellite locations in New Jersey, China, and Singapore. Rutgers Business School is ranked #10 nationwide for “Most Competitive Students” by The Princeton Review; and is part of the campus that is ranked #1 in diversity nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, for 12 straight years. Full-time MBA and part-time MBA programs give excellent options for people looking to boost their careers.

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TAGS: Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development