UB Entrepreneurial Center Enrolls Record Class

Release Date: October 16, 1997

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A record 41 Western New York business owners and operators have enrolled this fall in the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) in the University at Buffalo School of Management.

The program this fall launched a pilot "Post-CEL" component for 17 graduates of last year's core program who will receive monthly clinics and trouble-shooting advice in topics of interest to their businesses.

CEL's increased enrollment can be attributed in part to an improved economy and to the growing notoriety of the program, says Marianne Sullivan, director of the CEL.

"Many of the participants feel that their businesses are going well enough now that they can take the time to attend our program," says Sullivan. "Others say that business is going so well that they need the program to learn how to manage the growth."

The participants, from a diverse group of small-, medium-, and large-size businesses, receive instruction in the CEL's 10-month core program, designed for successful business leaders who want to grow or better manage their businesses by developing or enhancing their entrepreneurial skills.

According to Sullivan, the businesses participating this fall average $5 million in sales annually (from $200,000 to $20 million), have been in operation for an average of 22 years (from 2 to 50 years) and employ an average of 30 people (from 2 to 1,200 employees).

"The participants range from the owners of a small specialized gardening service, to executives from local non-profits, to the presidents of competing engineering and construction firms, to owners of Western New York companies who do all their business internationally," says Sullivan. "What they learn from our curriculum is complemented by the informal valuable networking that occurs among participants."

During intensive training, the CEL "fellows" participate in a self-assessment program that exposes their entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses; deliver a detailed presentation about the status of their business and the challenges confronting it; and attend clinics and symposia designed to enhance their understanding of business applications. They also participate in an overnight retreat to build team and communication skills.

In its 11th year of operation, CEL has assisted nearly 250 Western New York businesses, 95 percent of which are still in operation, Sullivan says. The program is hoping to expand to Rochester within the next year and soon will launch an entrepreneurial "help-line," on the Internet from which local entrepreneurs can access the expertise of successful business executives and management professors on topics such as start-up financing, marketing, or tax law, she says.

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