For the EVOLution of Business

Growing an Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem at the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship with Ebony Miller-Wesley

Episode Summary

Building an entrepreneurial ecosystem has traditionally meant focusing on what Ebony Miller-Wesley calls "opportunity entrepreneurs" looking to build high-tech, high-growth businesses. Yet for "necessity entrepreneurs," the needs are different as is their access to resources, capital and education. ...But the conversation is changing! Ebony is leading that change as the Director of the RIT Center for Urban Entrepreneurship (CUE), which both provides business and consulting services and also acts as a hub to connect urban entrepreneurs to the other resources available throughout the ecosystem in Rochester. Although the CUE is still in its early stages and continues to evolve, Ebony has been speaking at national conferences to leaders in other communities that want to learn from this evolving model. Tune in to this episode to hear how Ebony and the CUE are building a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rochester!

Episode Notes

Building an entrepreneurial ecosystem has traditionally meant focusing on what Ebony Miller-Wesley calls "opportunity entrepreneurs" looking to build high-tech, high-growth businesses. Yet for "necessity entrepreneurs," the needs are different as is their access to resources, capital and education.

...But the conversation is changing! Ebony is leading that change as the Director of the RIT Center for Urban Entrepreneurship (CUE), which both provides business and consulting services and also acts as a hub to connect urban entrepreneurs to the other resources available throughout the ecosystem in Rochester.

Although the CUE is still in its early stages and continues to evolve, Ebony has been speaking at national conferences to leaders in other communities that want to learn from this evolving model. Tune in to this episode to hear how Ebony and the CUE are building a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rochester!

Ebony leads the center’s efforts to raise funds to provide critical assistance to underserved businesses in high growth sectors, and foster outreach and collaboration with the Rochester City School District and entrepreneurship education for dislocated workers. She also maintains partnerships with entrepreneurship and training efforts currently found within RIT’s Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Venture Creations business incubator, as well as other community, government and economic development organizations.

Prior to joining RIT, Ebony worked as program coordinator at the Urban League of Rochester’s Minority and Women Business Development Division where she assisted entrepreneurs with growing their business and aspiring entrepreneurs with identifying their needs.

Ebony is a 2016 Rochester Business Journal Forty-Under-40 honoree, has numerous community connections, including serving as a member of the Salvation Army Board of Advisors, member of the Rochester Prep Board of Trustees, member of the PathStone Enterprise Center Loan Committee, member of the Class of 2015 Leadership Rochester, and a member of the 2013 class of the African American Leadership Development Program.

[2:00] The beginnings of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship

[3:45] Capacity-building program for entrepreneurs seeking growth
-Training in sales, marketing, financials, leadership
-For entrepreneurs whose businesses have been open for at least 1 year and are generating revenue
-$250 cost

[7:50] Other workshops and development opportunities

[10:30] Mapping and collaborating with other resources available in the entrepreneurial ecosystem
-ESL, Pathstone, City of Rochester, Rochester Downtown Development Corporation, SCORE SBA, Urban League, Venture Jobs Foundation

[17:00] Success stories: A public relations startup, a new line of business for a cleaning company

[29:30] For "necessity entrepreneurs," access to resources, capital and education is different (compared to "opportunity entrepreneurs" of high-tech, high-growth companies), but the conversation is changing and service providers are evolving.

[32:15] Coaching for aspiring entrepreneurs

[35:15] Creating a tracking system across the ecosystem

[39:30] Working toward developing a sustainable model

[41:00] How the community can support the CUE
Learn more at rit.edu/cue