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Recent Press Releases: Entrepreneurial Center & Women's Business Center

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Free Program Benefits Hartford’s Small Businesses

Free Program Benefits Hartford’s Small Businesses

Entrepreneurial Center Receives Grant to Help Businesses Prosper

July 2019

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

Prudential Foundation Awards Renewed $75,000 Grant

Prudential Foundation Awards Entrepreneurial Center Renewed $75,000 Grant

June 2019

The University of Hartford is pleased to announce that the Prudential Foundation has awarded the Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center 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 & Women's Business 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

Entrepreneurial Center Hosts Tenth Annual CT Business Matchmaker

University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center will host tenth annual CT Business Matchmaker

April 2019

In order to thrive, small businesses must find opportunities to sell their products and services to larger ones. At the same time, big companies are under pressure to find skilled, dependable contractors to help complete projects efficiently. What they need is a good matchmaker! CT Business Matchmaker is among the state’s largest events designed to pair small, established businesses with prime contractors, government agencies, and municipalities that are actively interested in increasing and diversifying supplier lists. The event is coming to the campus of the University of Hartford in June, and registration is now open.

The CT Business Matchmaker, an annual event since 2010, is an ideal venue for businesses that need to expand their contracting and subcontracting opportunities. At the event, small businesses meet with Primes (including medium to large companies, state and federal government agencies, municipalities, educational institutions, and others that subcontract services and/or supplies) to present their products and services in a series of ten-minute one-on-one interviews. This proven process allows Primes and Small Businesses to quickly identify valuable, potential partnerships.

The event is open to all industries. This year, organizers are focusing on increasing participation from women-owned and minority-owned small businesses. Additionally, with the event's emphasis on the manufacturing and construction sectors, Primes can expect to connect with experienced contractors who can fill a range of roles from skilled labor to operations consulting. CT Business Matchmaker is organized and managed by the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center (EC-WBC) and partners.

Dimeo Construction Company has found CT Business Matchmaker to be a valued asset. "Our participation has led to new and meaningful partnerships, with the turnout growing larger every year. We recommend it highly,” said Dimeo's Dan O'Connell.

"This event is unique. We have not attended another that is so intentionally organized to benefit small businesses directly," said Ellen Feldman-Ornato of The Bolder Company.

CT Business Matchmaker 2019 will be held from 7:00 am until 2:30 pm on Thursday, June 13, on the main campus of the University of Hartford. Prime registration is now open. As space is limited, companies need to confirm their participation as soon as possible. There is no charge for Primes to participate. Registration for Small Businesses will open April 24.

“For ten years, the Matchmaker event has brought together large and small businesses in a fast-paced and productive way. This year’s focus on women-owned and minority-owned firms adds to the diversity of the talent available to grow Connecticut’s economy, especially in the manufacturing and construction industries,” said Fred Wergeles, Director of the EC-WBC.

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

To register or learn more, visit

Gold Sponsors of CT Business Matchmaker 2019 are The Metropolitan District (MDC) and CT Next. Bronze sponsors include The Hartford, Enfield Enterprises Inc., Dimeo Construction, CT Airport Authority, and Webster Bank.

In addition to the EC-WBC, the organizers include CT Department of Administrative Services, CT Human Rights and Opportunities, Disability in Connecticut, CT Center for Advanced Technology, CT Procurement Technical Assistance Center, CT Secretary of State’s Office, Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, University of Hartford’s Construction Institute, US General Services Administration, and US Small Business Administration.

TD Charitable Foundation Supports Leadership Series

TD Charitable Foundation Supports University of Hartford with Donation

September 2018

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

“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

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 Find TD Bank on Facebook at and on Twitter at

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

How Working for Yourself Can Work

How Working for Yourself Can Work

Making the most of your own skills to increase your income

July 2018

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.”

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.

Center Wins CT Entrepreneur Award

Entrepreneurial Center and Construction Institute Win CT Entrepreneur Awards

April 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

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.

Operations Expand to East Hartford’s CCAT

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

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

September 2017

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).

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