The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC) marked 30 years of helping small businesses in Connecticut succeed with a celebration on Thursday, November 12. The evening featured an impromptu visit by Senator Blumenthal, a showcase of small businesses who have started and grown with the assistance of the EC, and several speakers. The event also acknowledged the success of the EC’s largest initiative, the Women’s Business Center (WBC), which has been funded by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) since 1999.
Sandra Cahill, EC Director, kicked off the evening by stating that, “it takes a village to raise a business”. The EC exemplifies this statement in its large number of partners in the region, many of whom showed their support at the event. Catherine Smith, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), Seth Goodall, New England Regional Administrator of the SBA, Scott Jellison, CEO of The Metropolitan District (MDC), and Martin Roth, Dean of the University’s Barney School of Business, spoke. Moraima Gutierrez, Assistant District Director of the CT SBA, and Milena Erwin, WBC Program Manager, emceed the evening.
Senator Blumenthal surprised the EC with a “Certificate of Special Recognition”, honoring their 30 years of “supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed.” He then visited briefly with twenty-seven small business owners from diverse industries who were exhibiting in the event showcase.
Cahill said, “The Entrepreneurial Center currently mentors over 1000 small business owners per year, including startups and established businesses from every industry. We have a small but mighty team at the EC and our efforts have made us one of the top performing Women’s Business Centers in the country.”
Commissioner Smith expressed, “I want to congratulate the Entrepreneurial Center and the WBC for all they have accomplished and extend a heartfelt thank you for their efforts. Without them, Connecticut would be a far less friendly state for small businesses and entrepreneurs.”
The keynote speaker, Terry Walters, author of Clean Food, Clean Start and Eat Clean Live Well regaled the audience with tales of her entrepreneurial journey. The evening ended with a small business panel composed of local owners including Heather Conley of Heather Conley Photography, Jerado Reynolds of Reynolds Welding and Fabrication and Kimberly Tindall of Kimberly’s Hope.
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 EC is funded by the US Small Business Administration, Connecticut’s Department of Community and Economic Development, the City of Hartford, and Prudential Foundation. Specific EC programs are funded by The Metropolitan District (MDC), Farmington Bank, The Hartford, and TD Bank. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/ec.