Foundation Announces $25,000 Entrepreneurial Initiative

The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties has launched a $25,000 entrepreneurial initiative to help bring more innovative businesses to downtown Utica.

The Impact Opportunity Challenge, made possible by The Foundation’s Corporate Partners, is open to individuals and/or groups that have an innovative business concept for one of four Utica neighborhoods: Downtown, Bagg’s Square, Brewery District or Bleecker/East District.

“The Impact Opportunity Challenge is a pilot program for The Foundation as we explore new and creative ways to support downtown economic development and entrepreneurism,” said Alicia Dicks, president and CEO of The Foundation. “This is a life-changing opportunity for someone in our community to start or grow their very own business. At the same time, we hope this initiative will support the continuing transformation of downtown into a vibrant and thriving component of our community.”

Start-ups and early-stage businesses are eligible to submit an application. Winning submissions will be eligible to receive up to $25,000 in funding to turn their big idea into a reality. Complete Challenge information is available at www.bigideas2016.com. Interested parties must submit an application by Wednesday, April 13, 2016, to be considered for participation.

To help applicants throughout the Challenge, The Foundation has partnered with Mohawk Valley Community College’s “thINCubator” to coach and mentor applicants. thINCubator offers accelerated programming that gives aspiring entrepreneurs the resources needed to make their vision a reality – from ideation to development to deployment.

The Challenge was announced at The Foundation’s Speaker Series event featuring Don Marinelli at the Stanley Center for the Arts. Marinelli addressed hundreds in attendance on lessons that can be learned from Pittsburgh, which redeveloped and revitalized itself following the loss of its industrial base. He encouraged Mohawk Valley community leaders and residents to envision the region’s potential and take steps to create positive change.

The Speaker Series and Impact Opportunity Challenge are sponsored by The Foundation’s Corporate Partners: Adjusters International; Bank of America; Bank of Utica; Birnie Bus Service, Inc.; Carbone Auto Group; Casa Imports; Charles A. Gaetano Construction Corp.; Clifford Fuel Co., Inc.; Excellus BlueCross BlueShield; Fastrac Markets; First Source Federal Credit Union; M. Griffith Investment Services, Inc.; Mohawk Valley EDGE; NBT Bank; The Observer-Dispatch; Oneida Savings Bank; Pacemaker Steel & Piping Company, Inc.; Save of the Day Foundation; Staffworks, Inc.; Strategic Financial Services, LLC; The Fountainhead Group; Upstate Venture Connect; WIBX 950; and WKTV NewsChannel 2.