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Entrepreneurial Center & Women's Business Center

News & Press Releases

2018

How Working for Yourself Can Work - November

Making the most of your own skills to increase your income

Leveraging your own skills: that’s the secret of success for many older adults looking to work for themselves in the 21st century gig economy. And that’s how Sarah Barr launched her own self-employment career.

Many of the lessons Sarah learned on her road to self-employment are conveniently detailed in AARP Foundation’s Work for Yourself@50+, an initiative that includes free workshops offered at the Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center and a free downloadable toolkit of guidance, tips, and resources. Sarah attended the free workshop in the summer of 2017 and then took advantage of the Center’s free one-on-one business advising.

Sarah, who is the CEO and Founder of Washashore Writing, had a goal of giving women a stronger and more competitive voice in business, education, and government. Throughout her career, she'd been called upon to lead as a writer and mentor, from her time in television news to her role as Director of Communication and New Media for the City of Hartford and finally as Vice President of Corporate and Government Communications at Webster Bank. Her professional accomplishments were great, but she reached a point in her life when she knew she had the kind of experience that could help other people succeed too. With the help of the Work for Yourself@50+ initiative, she launched Washashore Writing to help women advance into leadership positions by building empowering communication skills.

"The Work for Yourself @50 program provided me with an honest gut check so that I knew I had the right appetite to go into business for myself," she said. "The workshop helped me look in the mirror, so to speak, and ask the necessary questions before I decided to launch Washashore Writing--an image-making, profile-raising writing and communications business that focuses on women's leadership." The Entrepreneurial Center & Women's Business Center provided additional follow-up advice on the nuts-and-bolts of running a business, with guidance in finance, accounting, marketing, business planning, and other basics, so Sarah had a strong foundation of vital knowledge to launch Washashore Writing successfully.

For many older adults, reaching the goal of improved financial stability might very well call for self-employment in one of its many forms: side gigs, freelancing, contracted services, or starting a small business or microbusiness.

If you're considering self-employment, you may not know where to start. Work for Yourself@50+ guides you through a series of steps to prepare you for launching a self-employment venture. One of the most important parts of the program is an interactive workshop that helps you take a clear-eyed look at whether working for yourself really is right for you. In addition, you will have the opportunity to develop a business plan, create rock-solid financials, and work one-to-one with a coach to meet your needs.

Working for yourself can seem like a solitary venture. Work for Yourself@50+ ensures that you’re never really going at it alone. As one program participant puts it, “It was helpful to hear stories of people my own age. My view of self-employment has been enhanced.”

The Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center will offer the free workshop, Work for Yourself@50+, on Wednesday, November 14, from 9:30 am – 12 pm at their location at 260 Girard Avenue in Hartford. To register, please visit aarp.cvent.com/uofh.

About AARP Foundation

AARP Foundation works to end senior poverty by helping vulnerable older adults build economic opportunity and social connectedness. As AARP’s charitable affiliate, we serve AARP members and nonmembers alike. Bolstered by vigorous legal advocacy, we spark bold, innovative solutions that foster resilience, strengthen communities and restore hope.

About Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center provides personalized business advising, educational programs, technical assistance, and networking events to new and expanding small businesses in Connecticut. The Center focuses on serving women, minority-owned businesses, and other underserved constituents. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the Center specializes in turning ideas into viable businesses and break-even companies into sustainable, profitable, and scalable enterprises. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec

Opportunity for Veterans and Spouses to Learn Entrepreneurship - November

Boots to Business Reboot registration is now open for November 8 program

Boots to Business Reboot, the entrepreneurial training program offered by the US Small Business Administration (SBA), will be holding a one-day course on November 8, 2018 in partnership with the University of Hartford's Entrepreneurial Center & Women's Business Center (EC-WBC). The seminar will take place at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, 222 Pitkin Street, East Hartford, CT 06108. Any veteran, service member, including National Guard and Reserves, or spouse considering business ownership is eligible to enroll.

Boots to Business Reboot is a two-step program. After completing the November 8 program, participants will be encouraged to enroll in one of the online courses offered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, Cornell University, or Mississippi State University. Participants may also follow up with a free business advisor at the EC-WBC or seek assistance at a Veterans Business Outreach Center: www.sba.gov/vboc.

“We know veterans make great entrepreneurs. In fact, nearly one in ten businesses in the US are veteran-owned”, said Frank Alvarado, SBA Veterans Affairs Officer, “They have leadership skills, tenacity, and the discipline required to start and grow businesses, but most haven’t applied those skills in a business context before. Boots to Business Reboot is offered to help them prepare for success and evaluate the opportunities and challenges of entrepreneurship. In addition, participants are introduced to SBA resources available to access start-up capital, technical assistance, and contracting opportunities.”

Milena Erwin, Program Manager for the Women’s Business Center, said, “The EC-WBC is excited to host and partner on this valuable program. Women veterans and spouses of veterans contribute to the record growth of women-owned small businesses in the US. The Boots to Business Reboot will provide participants with resources, knowledge, and connections they can use to achieve their business dreams.”

To register for the Boots to Business Reboot program at the EC-WBC, please visit https://sbavets.force.com/ or contact the SBA district office in your local community. For more information about Boots to Business Reboot, visit: www.sba.gov/bootstobusinessreboot or contact Rich Laria at richvboc@gmail.com.

Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center provides personalized business advising, educational programs, technical assistance, and networking events to new and expanding small businesses in Connecticut. The Center focuses on serving women, minority-owned businesses, and other underserved constituents. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the Center specializes in turning ideas into viable businesses and break-even companies into sustainable, profitable, and scalable enterprises. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec

TD Charitable Foundation Supports University of Hartford with Donation - September

The TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, recently donated a total of $10,000 to University of Hartford as part of the foundation’s commitment to giving back to the community.

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center & Women's Business Center (EC-WBC) provides personalized business advising, educational programs, technical assistance, and networking events to new and expanding small businesses in Connecticut. The EC-WBC focuses on serving women, minority-owned businesses, and other underserved constituents. The funds from the TD Charitable Foundation will fund the TD Bank Business Leadership Series, a free series of lectures that is geared towards professionals and entrepreneurs. This fall’s lectures will include Craft your Powerful Leadership Story, A Reality Guide to Sales, New Lessons in Leadership from the Savannah, and Resilience as a Survival Tool. New topics will be offered in the spring. To register, visit hartford.edu/ec-register.

“The Leadership Series seminars are very popular in the community,” states Fred Wergeles, Director of the EC-WBC, “The programs provide unique inspiration and guidance on leadership, communication, and management skills for small business owners and professionals, as well as University of Hartford alumni, faculty, staff, and students.”

"TD is proud to partner with the University of Hartford in expanding access to opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs," said Michael LaBella, TD Market President.

A staunch commitment to active involvement in the local community is a vital element of the TD Bank philosophy. TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank® and the TD Charitable Foundation provide support to affordable housing, financial literacy and education, and environmental initiatives, many of which focus on improving the welfare of children and families.

About the TD Charitable Foundation

The TD Charitable Foundation is the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, one of the 10 largest commercial banking organizations in the United States. Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation has distributed nearly $199 million and more than 19,400 grants through donations to local nonprofits from Maine to Florida. More information on the TD Charitable Foundation, including the online grant application, is available at TDBank.com

About TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank®

TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 9 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,200 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, visit www.tdbank.com. Find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDBank and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US.

TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol "TD". To learn more, visit www.td.com.

Free Program Benefits Hartford’s Small Businesses - July

Entrepreneurial Center Receives Grant to Help Businesses Prosper

One of the best deals for Hartford small businesses just expanded and is accepting new applicants. The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center (EC-WBC) received an award to support the Hartford Small Business Technical Assistance Program (HSBTAP). HSBTAP provides free support to local businesses to increase sales and become more stable and prosperous.

Shelli McMillen, the HSBTAP Manager, said, “This is a small but mighty program that has a high impact on the local community. In the past three years, we have helped 73 small businesses to create 46 jobs, increase their profits by 57%, and access $1.5M in capital. With the expanded funding this year, we have new spaces available and are looking forward to working with more small businesses.”

The program has been funded since 2011 by the City of Hartford through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). These businesses receive free technical assistance to develop marketing campaigns, including social media and websites, develop business plans, learn financial management skills and tools, and more. The objective is to help businesses grow, earn more profits, and create jobs for the local community. CDBG requires that eligible businesses market their products or services, in part, to low-to-moderate income residents in Hartford.

To apply, call the EC-WBC at 860.768.5681. More information is available at hartford.edu/hartford-small-business.

Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center provides personalized business advising, educational programs, technical assistance, and networking events to new and expanding small businesses in Connecticut. The Center focuses on serving women, minority-owned businesses, and other underserved constituents. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the Center specializes in turning ideas into viable businesses and break-even companies into sustainable, profitable, and scalable enterprises. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec.

Entrepreneurial Center and Construction Institute Win CT Entrepreneur Awards - April 20

 

CT Entrepreneur AwardsWest Hartford, Conn., April 20, 2018: The 2018 CT Entrepreneur Awards were announced at a ceremony on Friday, April 20, during which the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center (EC-WBC) and the Construction Institute were honored. The awards identify, recognize, and celebrate Connecticut’s leading entrepreneurs, ventures, and ecosystem elements that support them.

The EC-WBC received the Community Favorite Funding Award. Honorable Mentions were awarded to Milena Erwin, Program Manager of the WBC, as Community Builder of the Year, and to the Center’s annual event, CT Business Matchmaker, for Community Favorite Event. The EC-WBC is honored to have received the recognition of the small business community as a source for developing successful loan and grant packages. Last year, over $1M in capital was accessed by clients. Congratulations to Milena Erwin for her well-deserved Honorable Mention; she has been a valuable guide for many small businesses and has built a strong women’s business program at the Center. Congratulations also to the EC-WBC staff and organizing partners who have made the CT Business Matchmaker, now in its 9th year, such an impactful program. The next event will happen on June 14; learn more at Hartford.edu/matchmaker.

Milena Erwin, Program Manager of the Women's Business Center and Fred Wergeles, Director of the Entrepreneurial Center.

(Photo - left to right: Milena Erwin, Program Manager of the Women's Business Center, and Fred Wergeles, Director of the Entrepreneurial Center)

The Construction Institute is proud to have won the Community Favorite Event Award for The Women Who Build Summit. The Institute would like to thank its program task force members for creating and building such a meaningful program: Carolina Cudemus, Gilbane Building Company; Kathy Cowles, id3a; Marie Maia, Montagno Construction Company; Seaneen Thorpe, Centerbrook Architects; Milena Erwin, Women's Business Center, University of Hartford, Veronica Cook, University of Connecticut, and Annie McEvoy, New England Real Estate Journal. The Institute would also like to thank the incredible panelists and generous sponsors who contributed so much to the program. To see the complete listing of speakers, panels, and sponsors of this year's award-winning event, click HERE. To read about the inspiring opening keynote by Melody Currey, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services, click HERE.

About the Awards

The CT Entrepreneur Awards featured both judged and community-favorite categories. Nominations began in January 2018 and then 14 expert judges from 13 states evaluated the finalists to identify winners in seven categories. A 30-day community-voting period during February and March 2018 yielded 8,709 unique votes for the 220 finalists in 14 categories. More than 60 Connecticut cities and towns were represented by the finalists.

Finding the Right Company for the Job: CT Business Matchmaker Connects Buyers with Suppliers - February

University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center hosts event to help purchasing agents diversify supplier lists

Subcontracting offers a valuable opportunity for small businesses, but can create a hurdle for the companies and agencies that need to find qualified providers of supplies and services. Finding the right company for the job is vital to the success of a project. CT Business Matchmaker was started in 2010 to meet this exact need. The event pairs small, established businesses and subcontractors with “Primes”—companies, government agencies, and others that are actively interested in increasing and diversifying their supplier lists. The 9th annual event, managed by the Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center (EC/WBC), will be held on the campus of the University of Hartford on June 14, 2018 from 7:00 am until 2:30 pm.

“The CT Business Matchmaker is our favorite event of the year!” said Bethel Hairston of Skanska USA Building Inc., “It allows us to meet with small businesses that we normally would miss. We are grateful to attend and Sponsor an event that helps open the door for so many small businesses in Connecticut.”

Kimberly Ewalt of Charter Oak Environmental Services was thrilled to participate in the 2017 event. “We found the exact company we needed for an important project. Without the Matchmaker, we wouldn’t have met and this would have been a sorely missed opportunity for both businesses.”

During the event, small businesses and subcontractors present their products and services in a series of ten-minute, one-on-one interviews with Primes. Most interviews are scheduled prior to the event, giving Primes the opportunity to review all appointments and decide which ones to accept. Registration for Primes will open Wednesday, January 10. Event sponsorship opportunities are available. Visit www.hartford.edu/matchmaker or call 860.768.5681 to learn more.

Fred Wergeles, Director of the EC/WBC, said, “The Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center looks forward to hosting and expanding the CT Business Matchmaker. We continue to see growing participation across all industries in the event, but this year we are adding a special emphasis on attracting small and large firms in the manufacturing and construction fields. Both groups will have designated areas to conduct interviews and network among themselves within the larger event.”

Milena Erwin, Program Manager of the WBC, stated, “Women and minority-owned businesses continue to make progress in obtaining large government and private contracts for their businesses. Through our Women’s Business Center, we focus on attracting more of these businesses to the Matchmaker event and preparing them with targeted training and assistance. Primes at the event also benefit from reaching a more diverse small supplier base.”

Gold Sponsors of CT Business Matchmaker 2018 are The Metropolitan District (MDC), the Metro Hartford Alliance, the CT Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and, the media sponsor, New England Real Estate Journal. Bronze sponsors include Skanska USA Building Inc., Viking Construction Inc., The Hartford, and Methuen Construction.

In addition to the EC/WBC, organizing sponsors include the University of Hartford’s Construction Institute, CT Department of Administrative Services, CT Human Rights and Opportunities, US General Services Administration, and the CT Business Leadership Network. The US Small Business Administration is an event partner.

A New Start - January

Milena Erwin, the Women's Business Center Program Manager, was featured in Hartford Magazine in January 2018.

Hartford Magazine

Power & Progress Business Women’s Symposium coming to University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center - January

Successful professional women know that creating a strong, self-assured first impression is one of the keys to effective networking. The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center (EC/WBC) will host Shine! Making a Powerful Impression at the next Power & Progress Business Women’s Symposium, a free event occurring on January 24.

Shine! Making a Powerful Impression
Power & Progress Business Women’s Symposium
Wednesday, January 24 (storm date: January 25)
5:30pm - 8:00pm

University of Hartford’s EC/WBC
222 Pitkin Street
East Hartford, Connecticut

Leading this unique event will be award-winning journalist and public relations expert Sarah Barr. She specializes in helping individuals and businesses develop persuasive and powerful messages, and in this seminar she will use her expertise to help attendees transform their goals into actions that create memorable impressions. Every businesswoman has a powerful individual voice; this event will guide attendees in developing that voice into a message that shines.

“This is one of my favorite programs to kick off the new year,” said Milena Erwin, Program Manager of the Women’s Business Center. “The attendees fill the room with vibrant energy and leave motivated and inspired to claim their power and achieve progress in their business and personal goals. We are excited to host another successful event!”

This event is free to attend, but registration is required. To sign up, visit www.hartford.edu/progress, or call (860) 768-5681.

2017

University of Hartford Announces Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center Move - September 19

Operations expand to East Hartford’s Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center and its largest initiative, the Women’s Business Center, are known as the area’s go-to source for business advising and training for women entrepreneurs, growth companies, aspiring entrepreneurs, and students. The Entrepreneurial Center announces today that they have recently expanded to two locations, one at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) on Pitkin Street in East Hartford, and the second on Girard Avenue in Hartford.

“The Barney School of Business and University of Hartford are excited about the Entrepreneurial Center’s co-location with the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology,” said Martin Roth, Dean of the University’s Barney School of Business. “The location places the Center closer to the Hartford-area small and micro businesses it serves so well. Also, the Center will not be a stranger to its legacy Hartford location, as consulting services and training programs will continue to be offered on the University’s Asylum Street campus at 260 Girard Avenue as well as in the new East Hartford location. The expanded delivery footprint will create greater economic impact for the region and value for aspiring entrepreneurs and growing businesses.”

Milena Erwin, the Women’s Business Center Program Manager, agrees. “We continue our commitment to the needs of Connecticut’s women entrepreneurs and small business owners. Through our Women's Business Center we will continue to provide the services and support they need to be successful. We look forward to expanding the reach of our Center with our new locations and many partnerships.”

The Entrepreneurial Center will celebrate their new partnership with CCAT on Tuesday, October 3, with an Open House at the East Harford office. According to Elliot Ginsberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of CCAT, this site is a natural fit for the Center. “CCAT is excited to have this opportunity to strengthen its relationship with the Entrepreneurial Center, whose presence here allows for an even greater synergy of the work each organization does as part an ecosystem to assist small businesses in Connecticut.”

Fred Wergeles, Entrepreneurial Center Director, is enthusiastic about the opportunities for new and expanded services that the new location will offer. “All of us at the Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center are looking forward to continuing our support of start-up entrepreneurs, growth-oriented companies, and students. We will continue to expand our client services with workshops, business advising, peer-support groups, and customized technical assistance to a broader cross-section of the business community,” he said. “With support from our sponsors and resource partners, we will work with CCAT and community and business leaders to further engage local entrepreneurs to make the Hartford-East Hartford area vibrant for economic growth.”

The Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center Open House will be free and open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the services they offer. It will be held on Tuesday, October 3, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the new CCAT site. (222 Pitkin Street, East Hartford, Connecticut).

About The Entrepreneurial Center

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC) provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the EC helps small business owners and employees to gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. The Women's Business Center, which specializes in serving women in business, is the largest initiative of the EC. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec.

Women’s Business Center selects winner in Connecticut’s InnovateHER challenge - July

Inventor of Garbage-eez will compete in September for Sarah Blakely Foundation prize

Women make up more than half of the American workforce today, but for many of them, the demands of home and family remain at least as challenging as they ever were. Women face unique obstacles as they strive to meet the needs of children, job, aging parents, and home—and that is creating a demand for innovative products and services that can help.

The InnovateHER challenge was born from this idea. It is a prize competition meant to shine a spotlight on creative entrepreneurs who are developing products to empower women and families. It involves three basic entry criteria:

  • The product or service must have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families.
  • It must have the potential for commercialization.
  • It must fill a need in the marketplace.

The University of Hartford’s Women’s Business Center hosted a Connecticut InnovateHER Challenge earlier this summer. They received more than 20 business ideas, and 19 individuals, businesses, and/or teams submitted official entries. The Women’s Business Center selected Stacey Lokey and Carolyn Caplik of Newtown, co-owners of MOM-EEZ, as the winner for their product Garbage-eez®.

Garbage-eez stores and dispenses kitchen garbage bags from the bottom of a garbage pail. It reduces space and saves time, making the process of removal quick, easy, and sanitary. The product has been developed, patented, and trademarked, and manufacturing and distributor relationships are set. As winners of the state competition, Lokey and Caplik will now become semi-finalists in the next phase of the national competition. The Small Business Administration will select ten finalists to attend the national pitch competition in September, with a prize of up to $70,000 provided by the Sarah Blakely Foundation.

“We were excited to host the third local InnovateHER challenge,” said Milena Erwin, Program Manager at the Women’s Business Center. “We received great interest and many exciting submissions for products and services with great potential to improve the lives of women and families. Our winner, MOM-EEZ, LLC, has a great existing product and a solid plan for growth. We wish Stacey and Carolyn luck and congratulate all our participants.”

Additional finalists in the Connecticut InnovateHER Challenge include:

  • Marien Zanyk, W2 Designs – Producers of Freestyle Fitness Equipment for healthy urban living.
  • Sondra Dellaripa, Harvest Development Group – Affordable online leadership skills incubator for women currently working in or interested in working in the nonprofit sector.
  • Diane Hayden, Natural Nutmeg Magazine – Magazine that offers information on natural health, wellness, green living, fitness, and organic products. Looking to license the publication.
  • Rosemarie Day, Datatalk – Environmental analyzer for migraines.
  • Dametrice Brown, Pearl Development Group – Agricultural STEM company that plans to provide four-season greenhouses and use sustainable farming methods to provide continuous produce supply.

About The Women’s Business Center

The Women’s Business Center (WBC) is an initiative of the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC), which provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the EC helps small business owners and employees to gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. The WBC specializes in serving women in business. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/wbc.

Entrepreneurial Center Receives an AARP Foundation Grant - June

Entrepreneurial Center is among 32 community-based organizations selected to receive funds to help older adults build the skills to work for themselves

AARP Foundation has awarded a grant to the Entrepreneurial Center to conduct Work for Yourself@50+℠ workshops in Hartford, CT. This national grant initiative is designed to help vulnerable older adults assess opportunities for self-employment, build skills, and connect with resources that will enable them to generate income by working for themselves.

The first workshop will be offered at the Center during the second week in July. The Entrepreneurial Center, located at 1265 Asylum Avenue in Hartford, CT, provides hands-on educational programs, business advising, technical assistance, and networking events for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs. The Women's Business Center, which specializes in serving women in business, is its largest initiative.

“For many low-income older adults, self-employment and business ownership is an opportunity to change their future,” said Emily Allen, Senior Vice President AARP Foundation Programs. “AARP Foundation is proud to work with organizations like the Women’s Business Center who are committed to helping older adults successfully run their own business. Our Work for Yourself@50+ program is designed to enable older adults to pursue self-employment by connecting them with trustworthy resources in their own communities.”

Fred Wergeles, Entrepreneurial Center Director, said, “The Center is excited to work with AARP and The Hartford to offer our resources to the ‘over-50’ client segment. We hope to spur new business start-ups by providing training, technical support, and advisory services to older adults looking for new career and business opportunities. Our experience with past clients shows that such customized business development services are instrumental in the success of these new ventures.” The program will be managed by Women’s Business Center Program Manager, Milena Erwin.

Through a nationwide open request for proposals, AARP Foundation, with support from The Hartford, identified and then selected promising organizations in high-need communities to receive grant awards and implement the Work for Yourself@50+ workshop model. The workshops help low-income adults 50 and older understand the pros and cons of self-employment and support them through the early steps that can lead to success.

“The Hartford is excited to work together with AARP Foundation on the Work for Yourself@50+ program, empowering mature adults to build on their potential and to prevail as independent entrepreneurs,” said Diane Cantello, head of Corporate Sustainability for The Hartford. “Self-employment creates small businesses that contribute to the stability and vitality of their local communities.”

Working with AARP Foundation, each grantee will put together a plan in its community to:

  • Publicize Work for Yourself@50+ resources and workshops to potential entrepreneurs
  • Host and facilitate a 90-minute introductory workshop, designed by AARP Foundation, to walk participants through the Work for Yourself@50+ materials
  • Connect program participants with local, accessible resources to help them take action on their income-generation plans

In addition to receiving grant funds, grantees will also participate in a community of practice and regular assessment to help build a body of knowledge about effective older-adult services and programs.

Creating and owning a business has long been heralded as a path to financial success and economic mobility; low-income older adults, however, face unique hurdles when re-entering the workforce in a nontraditional capacity. AARP Foundation’s and The Hartford’s investment in these grantees seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable populations by supporting and advancing effective solutions.

To learn more about the Work for Yourself@50+ initiative, please visit aarpfoundation.org/workforyourself or call 1-888-339-5617 to receive a free toolkit and sign up for the July workshop at the Entrepreneurial Center.

About AARP Foundation

AARP Foundation works to ensure that low-income older adults have nutritious food, affordable housing, a steady income, and strong and sustaining social bonds. We collaborate with individuals and organizations who share our commitment to innovation and our passion for problem-solving. Supported by vigorous legal advocacy, we create and advance effective solutions that help struggling older adults transform their lives. AARP Foundation is the affiliated charity of AARP.

About The Hartford

The Hartford is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford is widely recognized for its service excellence, sustainability practices, trust and integrity. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at thehartford.com. Follow The Hartford on Twitter at twitter.com/TheHartford_PR.

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., (NYSE: HIG) operates through its subsidiaries under the brand name, The Hartford, and is headquartered in Hartford, Conn. For additional details, please read The Hartford’s legal notice at thehartford.com/legal-notice.

Connecticut Entrepreneurs Find Partners, Opportunity at CT Business Matchmaker - May

University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center hosts event to connect small businesses with contracting opportunities

West Hartford, Conn., May 8, 2017: Finding the right business partners can be one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs. While they are often inundated with opportunities to network, time is at a premium and networking events must offer high-value contacts with as many decision-makers as possible. CT Business Matchmaker is among Connecticut's largest events designed to meet that need by pairing small, established businesses with “Primes”—large and medium-sized companies, government agencies, educational institutions, and municipalities who are actively interested in increasing and diversifying their supplier lists. The eighth annual event, managed by the Entrepreneurial Center, will be held on the campus of the University of Hartford in June, and registration is now open.

Viking Construction is an example of a past Prime attendee who found what they were looking for at CT Business Matchmaker. “At Viking Construction, we are always looking for qualified subcontractors. We need to find the right company for the job in order to create a successful project, so relationships are very important to us. We know we’ll meet the quality we are seeking at CT Business Matchmaker,” said Michele Yeager, Project Administrator at Viking Construction.

Giving opportunities to local, small businesses is a driving priority for Michael Jefferson at the Metropolitan District (MDC), another Prime attendee. “Through the CT Business Matchmaker, we accomplished our goal of reaching out to new subcontractors and providing economic opportunities to local businesses.” He appreciates the presence of resource partners in the Matchmaker event. “They help get the small businesses ready for the opportunities we put out to bid. I like to network with those agencies as well so I know what resources are available to support the success of our vendors. The MDC is committed to this process that helps build opportunities for small businesses.”

CT Business Matchmaker 2017 will be held from 7:00 am until 2:30 pm on Thursday, June 1, on the campus of the University of Hartford. Both Prime registration and small business registration are now open. Event sponsorship opportunities are also available. Visit www.hartford.edu/matchmaker for more information on registration and sponsorship. Advanced registration is strongly encouraged as space is limited. As part of the registration process, small businesses will have the opportunity to sign up for five appointments with Primes.

Additional organizing partners for CT Business Matchmaker include the University of Hartford’s Construction Institute, US Small Business Administration, CT Department of Administrative Services, CT Procurement Technical Assistance Program, CT Human Rights and Opportunities, and US General Services Administration.

“The Matchmaker program is a premier event offering significant new opportunities for CT-based small businesses,” said Fred Wergeles, Director of the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center. “Bringing together large companies and agencies with small businesses in the fast-paced Matchmaker environment creates the spark for emerging relationships that will fuel the state’s economy. The Entrepreneurial Center provides pre-event training for both the large and small businesses to maximize the value of their participation in the program.”

Wergeles also emphasized his organization’s effort to reach out to businesses run by women and minorities. “Through our Women’s Business Center, we also focus on recruiting women-owned and minority-owned businesses. These businesses traditionally receive fewer contracts, so we strive to provide more opportunities for them through this event.”

CT Business Matchmaker 2017 will offer an invaluable opportunity for small business owners to expand their contracting relationships. During the event, small businesses will present their products and services to potential customers in a series of ten- minute, one-on-one interviews with Primes. All Prime participants, including state and federal agencies, large corporations, municipalities, and educational institutions, come to the event with business needs they are seeking to fill. A full list of participating organizations follows.

Gold Sponsors of CT Business Matchmaker 2017 are The Metropolitan District (MDC), Pitney Bowes Inc., and the Metro Hartford Alliance. Bronze Sponsors are Farmington Bank, Viking Construction Inc., Skanska, and The Hartford.

To sign up or learn more, visit www.hartford.edu/matchmaker.

About The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center provides training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the Center helps small business owners and employees gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. The Women's Business Center, which specializes in serving women in business, is the largest initiative of the EC. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec.

2017 PRIME PARTICIPANTS:

Boston Scientific
Canberra Industries
Cianbro Corporation
City of Hartford
City of New Britain
Charter Oak Environmental Services, Inc.
Colt's Manufacturing Company LLC
CT Airport Authority
Connecticut Lottery Corporation
CSCU
Dimeo Construction Company
Elbit Systems of America, Kollsman Inc
Enfield Enterprises Inc.
Enterprise Builders, Inc.
GENERAL DYNAMICS Electric Boat
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, LLC
Greater Hartford Transit District
Harvard Pilgrim
Kaman Composite Structures
Manafort Brothers Incorporated
Methuen Construction Co., Inc.
Pioneer Valley Transit Authority
Pitney Bowes
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company
Skanska USA
Staples Business Advantage
Supervisor of Ship Building
The Hartford
The Metropolitan District
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Triumph Integrated Systems
UCONN Health
UCONN Purchasing Dept.
UConn Supplier Diversity Program
United States Navy
US Environmental Protection Agency
US General Services Administration – FAS
US General Services Administration - PBS
United Technology Aerospace Systems
Viking Construction
Western CT State University

Why is solid personal branding vital to business success for women? - January

Learn the keys to branding success in a free Business Women's Symposium at the University of Hartford

It's no secret that confidence and a strong, assured presence are important to success in many aspects of business, but developing that kind of image can be a challenge for many professionals--particularly women. The University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center's next Power & Progress/Business Women's Symposium will tackle that topic, as they present "Confident Connections: Building a Bold Brand with YOU at the Center," on Wednesday, January 25, at 5:30pm.

Presenters Jenny Drescher and Ellen Feldman Ornato will lead an invigorating, confidence-building session that is designed to teach professional women how to construct a powerful personal brand. If you can master the ability to create and maintain a strong, flexible, connected presence, you will find that you have an advantage in networking, speaking, selling, and more. This session will uncover five ways to amp up confidence so you can lead and sell like a winner.
The Power and Progress Business Women's Symposium is sponsored by the University of Hartford's Women's Business Center in collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Farmington Bank, and Tonsha Marketing Agency.

This event is free to attend, but registration is required. To sign up, visit www.hartford.edu/progress, or call (860) 768-5681.

About The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC) provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the EC helps small business owners and employees to gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. The Women's Business Center, which specializes in serving women in business, is the largest initiative of the EC. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec.

Prudential Foundation Awards Entrepreneurial Center Renewed $75,000 Grant - January

The University of Hartford is pleased to announce that the Prudential Foundation has awarded the Entrepreneurial Center, located on the Asylum Avenue campus in Hartford, a renewed grant of $75,000. Connecticut small business owners in the startup and expansion phases will benefit as the award will be used to continue supporting the Small Business Technical Assistance Training Program (SBTAP), which provides training, business advising, and technical assistance to small businesses.

The Center’s successful track record has secured the continued support of the Prudential Foundation. During the program year running November 2015 – October 2016, the Center invested almost 1000 hours in one-on-one business advising through SBTAP, assisting 71 clients to either startup or expand their businesses. These clients launched 7 businesses, created 51 jobs, increased combined revenues by over $1M, accessed capital of just under $1M, and completed business goals ranging from developing marketing strategy and sales campaigns to training in cash flow and employee management.

“We are grateful for Prudential’s endorsement of our work to support these microenterprises,” said Fred Wergeles, Entrepreneurial Center Director, “It is gratifying to provide these B2B services for local entrepreneurs as we assist in their startups and expansions. The Center helps small businesses create business and marketing plans, gain access to capital for expansion, increase revenues, and create jobs. This is truly a ‘locals supporting locals’ effort.”

Through Center programming, a team of experienced staff, local small business experts, and resource partners provide entrepreneurs with a number of services including:

  • Training for business and professional growth
  • One-on-one business advising
  • Women’s Business Center, including the Women’s Business Roundtable, Power & Progress Business Women’s Symposium, and other women-focused events and services
  • Individualized technical assistance for business plan development, financing, hiring, contracts, marketing, government contracting, tax planning and more
  • Comprehensive business planning courses
  • Connections to small business resources

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the Center helps small business owners and employees to gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. The Women's Business Center, which specializes in serving women in business, is the largest initiative of the Entrepreneurial Center. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec.

2016

Entrepreneurial Center Announces New Director - October

Center Gears Up to Increase Impact on the Region

Fred Wergeles is the new director of the Entrepreneurial Center.The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center is proud to announce the appointment of its new director, Fred Wergeles. An expert in strategic planning and competitive intelligence analysis, he brings an impressive history of supporting the growth of business in Connecticut.

Wergeles has over 25 years experience managing intelligence collection and analysis in support of strategic decision-making for the federal government and Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies. In 2001, he opened his own practice, Fred Wergeles & Associates LLC, which specializes in strategic planning and competitive intelligence process improvement. He has advised companies, from Fortune 500 to small firms, to quickly and effectively improve their strategic planning and market assessment capabilities.

"I am truly excited to lead the Entrepreneurial Center at this increasingly dynamic time in the Hartford region,” Wergeles said, “There are a number of new activities, like the statewide Innovation Places initiative, that will expand the reach and impact of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. The University is committed to supporting these efforts to spur business growth and to provide opportunities for our students to contribute to the region."

Currently an adjunct professor at the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business, Wergeles teaches Market and Competitive Intelligence and Marketing Management in the MBA program, as well as entrepreneurship and marketing classes to undergraduates. He is the founder and president of the Connecticut Economic Gardening Group, an organization dedicated to providing business information, analysis, and marketing services to small businesses.

“The Barney School of Business and University of Hartford are delighted to have Fred Wergeles join the Entrepreneurial Center as its new director," said Barney School Dean Marty Roth. “Fred brings a wealth of education, business, and government experience to the director role. His connections in the Connecticut entrepreneurial networks, expertise counseling small businesses, and linkages at the University are valuable assets. Fred has the necessary leadership skills to ensure that the Center continues its high-quality programming for women, leaders of minority-owned businesses, and other small business owners. We look forward to the Center’s profile and reputation as a key entrepreneurship resource among current and future partners rising rapidly under Fred’s direction."

The Entrepreneurial Center, part of the University’s nationally renowned Barney School of Business, has become the place for Connecticut’s small business owners to turn when they need help starting, building, expanding, and succeeding. Under the direction of now-retired director, Sandra Cahill, its programs have grown in capacity and in local impact. Its largest program, the U.S. Small Business Administration-funded Women’s Business Center (WBC) managed by Milena Erwin, has been ranked in the top 20% of WBC’s nationwide.

The Center provides business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events to aspiring and existing small businesses throughout Connecticut. During 2015, the EC assisted in 63 business startups, over $1m in capital infusion, the creation of 169 jobs, and the retention of 1287 jobs. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec.

The University of Hartford (UHart), centrally located in Connecticut, provides a distinctive educational experience across seven schools and colleges for one of the most diverse student bodies in New England. UHart’s faculty are attracted by the opportunity to mentor, challenge, and support students as they pursue degrees in more than 100 programs in the arts, humanities, science, business, engineering and technology, education, and health professions. Chartered in 1957, today’s UHart has more than 5,200 undergraduate and nearly 1,700 graduate students from 46 states and 61 countries, as well as 82,000 alumni living worldwide. Visit www.hartford.edu for more information.

The Maker Movement can make a big difference in Connecticut: Learn how at The New England Maker Summit: Why Making Matters - October

Event is coming to the University of Hartford on Thursday, November 17

The “Maker Movement” refers to inventors, designers, and other self-reliant innovators who are moving American technology forward with their imagination and independent work culture. From creating new business opportunities to spurring community revitalization and improving our schools, the Maker Movement can change an economic landscape. The New England Maker Summit: Why Making Matters, coming up on Thursday, November 17 at the University of Hartford, will demonstrate how Connecticut is poised to take advantage of this movement by spotlighting success stories and providing guidelines for implementation.

The impressive speaker lineup includes:

  • Dale Dougherty, considered the “Father of the Maker Movement”
  • Mark Hatch, Co-founder and previous CEO of TechShop
  • Tia Capps, Communications Director, CO.LAB
  • Bonnie Koba, Director of the HOT (Higher Order Thinking) school program
  • Ken Butler and Ed Potokar, musicians and Makers who create their own instruments
  • Balam Soto, new media artist, entrepreneur, and Maker in Hartford
  • Devra Sisitsky and Bryan Patton, founders of MakerspaceCT and the New England Maker Summit

Attendees will learn:

  • How “making to manufacturing” is creating new businesses and jobs
  • The educational benefits of Makerspaces
  • Why the White House is promoting Making
  • What resources are available to get Making more active in Connecticut

MakerspaceCT is developing a large commercial space in the Greater Hartford Area providing members access to educational classes and tools. MakerspaceCT will be a community resource open to the public and offering training on the equipment and tools needed to make or manufacture prototypes, cosplay, hobbyist, and artistic projects. They place an emphasis on hardware, prototype creation, electronics, coding, fiber arts, fabrication- both wood and metal, traditional blacksmithing, glass blowing, ceramics, and the arts. For more information, visit: www.makerspaceCT.com.

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC) provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the EC helps small business owners and employees to gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. The Women's Business Center, which specializes in serving women in business, is the largest initiative of the EC. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec.

Brazilian Women Entrepreneurs Exchange Experience and Best Practices with Local Small Business Owners - September

See more photos and details about the event on Facebook.

September 8, 2016Brazilian women small business owners shared expertise and best practices with local business owners at the Women's Business Center.

The University of Hartford's Women's Business Center (WBC) will host the Brazil Meet & Greet Small Business Luncheon on Wednesday, September 21, 11 am - 1 pm at the Entrepreneurial Center at 1265 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, CT. The three sponsoring organizations, the WBC in collaboration with the CT Small Business Development Center and the US Dept. of Commerce, will welcome to CT the Business Women Award winners, a group of successful, women microenterprise owners from Brazil. The winners will be accompanied by the awarding organization, SEBRAE, the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service, which advances the development, sustainability, and expansion of small businesses in Brazil. Myeicka Gittens of The Polished Nail Truck in Hartford shares her successes and challenges as a woman small business owner.

SEBRAE annually provides the opportunity to its small business winners to visit the US and learn from their counterparts’ experiences, creating new ideas for expanding their businesses. At the September 21 event, local small businesses will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and best practices with the visiting entrepreneurs while learning about the Brazilian small business landscape.

The Brazilian Business Women Award winners include: The University of Hartford's Women's Business Center hosted the Brazil Meet & Greet Small Business Luncheon where local small businesses had the opportunity to experiences with the visiting entrepreneurs while learning about the Brazilian small business landscape.

  • Jordana Saldanha - produces and sells a line of healthy food, including vegan and lactose-free foods in Brasilia, Salgadart.
  • Maria de Fatima Paiva - provides fresh fish, crab, and oyster, ready to be used by restaurants in Salvador.
  • Fabiana Cabral - has a fashion truck and sells purses in Sao Paulo. She is currently adding a line of shoes.

For more information, call the Entrepreneurial Center at 860.768.5681.

The Women’s Business Center is the largest initiative of the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC), which provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the EC helps small business owners and employees to gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. The WBC specializes in serving women in business. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/wbc.

Annual Business Matchmaker Helps Connecticut Entrepreneurs Find the Perfect Match - April

Event connects product/service providers with potential new business

One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is finding the right opportunities to network with prospective business partners and clients. Time is always at a premium, so it's important that events offer high-value contacts with as many decision-makers as possible. CT Business Matchmaker is among Connecticut's largest events designed to pair small, established businesses with prime contractors, government agencies, and municipalities who are actively interested in increasing their supplier lists. The seventh annual event will be held on the campus of the University of Hartford in June, and registration is now open.

CT Business Matchmaker 2016 will offer an invaluable opportunity for small business owners to expand their contracting opportunities. During the event, attendees will present their products and services to potential customers in a series of ten-minute, one-on-one interviews with matchmaker participants. Among those participants are state and federal agencies, large corporations, municipalities, and educational institutions, all of whom come into the event with business needs they are seeking to fill. A full list of participating organizations follows.

“We are always pleased with the number of small businesses who walk away from Business Matchmaker with new opportunities,” said Sandra Cahill, Director of the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center. “As long as attendees come prepared, they will meet people who may open doors for them and help them get business. It works!” Free training is available to help small businesses prepare to make the most of their participation in the event.

CT Business Matchmaker 2016 will be held from 7:00 am until 3:00 pm on Thursday, June 2, at the Gengras Student Union at the University of Hartford. Small business registration is now open, and a discounted registration fee of $50 is available until May 13. From May 14 through 26, the fee is $65. Advance registration is required, and attendees will have the opportunity to sign up for five matchmaker appointments immediately upon registration. Space is limited.

CT Business Matchmaker 2016 is presented by the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center, the U.S. Small Business Administration, CT Department of Administrative Services, CT Procurement Technical Assistance Program, CT Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, and the U.S. General Services Administration. The event’s Platinum sponsor is the Metropolitan District (MDC), and the Silver sponsor is Pitney Bowes.

To sign up or learn more, visit www.hartford.edu/matchmaker.

About The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center
The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC) provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the EC helps small business owners and employees to gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. The Women's Business Center, which specializes in serving women in business, is the largest initiative of the EC. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec.

2016 PARTICIPATING MATCHMAKER ORGANIZATIONS:

A. Secondino & Son, Inc.
AVANGRID
Boston Scientific
Canberra Industries Inc
Cianbro Corporation
City of Hartford
City of Meriden
City of New Britain
Connecticut Lottery Corporation
Consigli Construction Co., Inc.
Dimeo Construction
Downes Construction
Elbit Systems of America / Kollsman Inc.
Enterprise Builders, Inc.
Federal Bureau of Prisons
GENERAL DYNAMICS Electric Boat
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, LLC
Greater Hartford Transit District
Greenwood Industries
GSA
Kaman Composite Structures
Kamatics RWG
Morganti Group Inc.
Otis Elevator Company (UTC Business Unit)
Pioneer Valley Transit Authority
Pitney Bowes, Inc.
Rolls-Royce Marine North America, Inc.
Sikorsky
Skanska USA Building, Inc.
Staples Business Advantage
Supervisor of Shipbuilding- Groton, CT
Sysco Foods of Connecticut
The Hartford
The Metropolitan District (MDC)
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Triumph Group
United Technologies Aerospace Systems
United Technologies Corporation
University of Connecticut
University of Connecticut Health Center
University of Hartford
US EPA
US Navy NAVFAC
Viking Construction
W.W. Grainger
Western Connecticut State University

1st Asian Small Business Roundtable to be Held in Hartford on April 30

The First Asian Small Business Roundtable will be held on Saturday, April 30 at the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC) at 1265 Asylum Avenue in Hartford, CT. The Roundtable, which will run 10 am – 12 pm, is being sponsored by the EC’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) and the Asian American Business Association.

The event is free and open to all. To register, visit www.hartford.edu/ec-register or call 860.768.5681.

The Roundtable, moderated by John Xu, Lender Relations Specialist with the CT Small Business Administration, will focus on contracting, financing, and exporting opportunities for CT small business owners and on resources available to assist them. The panel will include:

  • Lisa Powell, Economic Development Specialist, US SBA, CT District
  • Susan Chen, Business Development Project Manager, CT Dept. of Economic and Community Development (DECD)
  • Milena Erwin, Program Manager, WBC, University of Hartford
  • Rick Mendes, Senior Business Development Officer, HEDCO Inc.
  • Jorge Lui Jimenez, Vice President, Business Banking, First Niagara Bank

The panelists will review government contracting processes, the SBA’s 8(a) and loan programs, the DECD’s Small Business Express Program, how to apply for a bank loan, and how to expand a business globally. Attendees will have an opportunity to connect with small business resources, including the WBC, which offers free business advising.

Milena Erwin, the WBC Program Manager, explained the goal of the Roundtable. “We are excited to host this event and increase awareness among the Asian entrepreneurs and small business owners in CT of the resources and opportunities that exist to help them grow and succeed.”

The Women’s Business Center (WBC) is an initiative of the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC), which provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the EC helps small business owners and employees to gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. The WBC specializes in serving women in business. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/wbc.

Entrepreneurial Center Honored During Women in Construction Ceremony at State Capitol - April

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) celebrated the 2016 Women in Construction Week with a ceremony at the Connecticut State Capitol on March 11, 2016. During the event, the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC) was honored for its significant role in supporting Connecticut women small business owners in the construction industry. The EC supports women in construction through its largest initiative, the Women’s Business Center (WBC), and through the Small Contractor Development Program.

NAWIC awarded the EC with a plaque recognizing it as a “Champion for Women in the Construction Industry.” Congressman John Larson’s office presented the EC with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) gave the EC a Certificate of Special Acknowledgement.

“We are proud to support the hard-working and capable women in construction develop as business owners and prepare to take on larger projects. Part of the WBC’s mission is to help the government reach its goal of awarding 5% of federal contracts to women-owned businesses, a goal which was met for the first time in 2015,” states Sandra Cahill, Director of the Entrepreneurial Center.

The EC was recognized in conjunction with its partner, the Metropolitan District (MDC). The MDC and EC run a Small Contractor Development Program (SCDP) that identifies the unique challenges and issues that contractors face within their industry and then focuses intense training and technical assistance in those areas. Training includes topics such as contract readiness, lean management, marketing, and bonding. Many of the trainings are taught by local general contractors in addition to EC advisors. Because of this close connection to the construction industry, the program helps small contractors to make connections with general contractors and resource partners. The WBC is an active participant as well, supporting the growth of women-owned contracting businesses.

Additional SCDP partners include the MBDA, the US Small Business Administration (SBA), CT Construction Industries Association, and CT Department of Community and Economic Development.

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC) provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Its largest initiative is the Women’s Business Center, funded in part by the SBA, which specializes in serving women in business. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the EC helps small business owners and employees to gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec.

The Women’s Business Center – Helping CT Women Succeed in Small Business - March

Entrepreneurship offers unique challenges for women who brave its sometimes unfamiliar, but often rewarding, pathways. Nestled in the center of Hartford is a place where women small business owners can turn for support, whether they have been in business for 20 years or are just beginning to think about starting a business. The University of Hartford’s Women’s Business Center (WBC), located at 1265 Asylum Avenue, offers training, business advising, mentoring, and networking events developed specifically for the learning styles, qualities, and particular needs of women.

“Our center is ranked in the top 20% of Women’s Business Centers nationally and over half of our clients are minorities. We develop our services by listening to our clients and designing services to align with their needs. We just celebrated our 15th anniversary and are proud of our excellent record of serving our community,” said Milena Erwin, the WBC Program Manager, “Women are starting businesses at a record rate, and women-owned businesses are increasingly contributing to Connecticut’s and the nation’s economy. However, women still face many challenges in the small-business arena, including in the fields of financing and contracting. The center helps these women be heard and empowers them with the tools to grow and succeed.”

According to the National Women’s Business Council, women are launching more than 1,100 new businesses every single day, employing over 8 million workers, and generating over $1.4 trillion in revenues. Women-owned businesses comprise 36% of the country’s businesses – which is an increase of 2 million women-owned businesses in this post-recession era.

Women often begin working with the WBC by attending a free workshop. The center offers 10 to 20 classes a month, on topics ranging from Starting Your Own Business to Business Planning to Government Contracting. Center classes strive to bring the latest trends and topics, such as social media and crowdfunding, utilizing experts in each field to bring the most up-to-date information on the topic. Many of the classes are free or low-cost.

Next, women may schedule a one-on-one appointment with a business advisor who will help them assess their needs, set goals, and plan their next action steps. Focus areas may include business planning, startup and expansion, market research, social media, marketing, growing revenues and sales, cash flow management, financial planning, loan packaging, government contracting, exporting, and general improvement of operations including lean management.

The center also provides networking events and in-depth programs throughout the year, such as the Power and Progress Business Women’s Symposium, a Women’s Business Roundtable, the Hartford Small Business Technical Assistance Program, and an annual Business Matchmaking event.

The WBC’s philosophy is to be the non-judgmental business advisors, teachers, mentors, sounding boards and cheerleaders for their clients so that they can become better planners, decision-makers, and implementers. A small business owner can’t possibly be an expert in every aspect of their business but they do need to have a working knowledge of each area.

The Women’s Business Center is the largest initiative of the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC), which provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. In the 2015 program year, 63 new businesses were launched with the EC and WBC’s assistance, more than 1,400 jobs were created or retained, and clients accessed more than $1.1 million of capital. Clients that participated with in-depth programming averaged an increase in net profits of more than $11,000 and an average increase in sales revenue of $35,000. The EC is funded by the US Small Business Administration, Connecticut’s Department of Community and Economic Development, the City of Hartford, and Prudential Foundation. For more information on the WBC, visit www.hartford.edu/wbc.