After 11 years of teaching economics and finance at Buffalo State, associate professor Joelle Leclaire noticed a trend—more and more students were interested in starting their own business.
"I actually took a survey of my Money and Banking class, and 30 out of 50 students raised their hands when I asked them if they wanted to be entrepreneurs," said Leclaire.
Apart from the expertise she shares from textbooks and her own business experience, Leclaire said she wanted to provide students with real-world opportunities to prepare them for such a future.
"Most college students who want to start a business don’t know how," said Leclaire.
At the same time, Sue McCartney, director of the college’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and Rita Zientek, interim dean of the School of the Professions, were mulling over a similar idea. After a meeting at Buffalo State’s Idea Lab this past fall, Leclaire put the concept forward, with the charge, "Let's make this happen."
Students now have a place on campus to gain support, hear from professional business owners, and collaborate. Called the INC.ubator, the room, located in Bishop Hall 107, is more than just a space; it's a haven for the birth of ideas. And it's only open to Buffalo State students.
During the semester, as part of Year of the Innovator, the SBDC and the INC.ubator will host regular speakers and events to help direct students through their entrepreneurial aspirations.
"We plan to bring in business owners, young and old, male and female, who started from nothing and have built successful businesses, some of which are multimillion-dollar companies," said Leclaire. "We also envision this as a meeting place that not only can be used for networking, but also for motivation."
Rick Johnson, manager for economic development in the Sponsored Programs Office, created the applications for students wanting to be part of the INC.ubator, and Simone Dawson, a Buffalo State senior who works for the SBDC, will serve as the INC.ubator manager this spring.
The first official gathering in the INC.ubator room is a small business dialogue on Friday, February 13, at 3:00 p.m.
"We plan to hold such meet-ups every two weeks until things get rocking," McCartney said. "Also, if a student needs literature, regulatory information, or business advice, Simone will provide them with what they need, including an appointment with one of our advisers."
For more information about the INC.ubator, contact Dawson or call the SBDC office at (716) 878-4030.
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