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Free small business training producing more shops in downtown Syracuse

Payne Horning
Matthew Nesbitt, manager of the Salina Street location of Cafe Kubal, said the "Emerging Leaders Program" was instrumental in securing the business' new location at Hotel Syracuse, which is currently under construction.


Central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) is encouraging small business owners to take advantage of a free training program that he says is helping revitalizing downtown Syracuse.

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News
B.J. Paprocki, a district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, encourages entrepreneurs to enroll in the "Emerging Leaders program" to train them on how to expand their operation.

The U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) "Emerging Leaders Program" offers a select number of entrepreneurs in Syracuse and 50 other cities a chance to take a seven-month course on how to grow their operation. SBA District Director B.J. Paprocki said the course is equivalent to a master's program.

"Participants will have acquired a new habit of working on your business and not in your business; taking a step away from that business to be able to focus on the bigger picture instead of being caught up on a daily basis," Paprocki said.

The emerging leaders initiative has enrolled 78 central New York entrepreneurs since it began in 2008, including Cafe Kubal's owner Matthew Goddard. At his coffee shop on Salina Street, store manager Matthew Nesbitt said he has seen a positive change in Goddard's leadership style since he graduated from the course.

"From that point, he definitely has had more of a rapid expansion plan with the culmination being the contract we've recently secured with Hotel Syracuse," Nesbitt said.

Other graduates include Jeff Steigerwald, who recently opened a third location of his restaurant and grocery store Liehs & Steigerwald on Fayette Street.

"The class forced me to look at the business and where we were going instead of being stuck down in the operations and getting bogged down in the details of running the business," Steigerwald said.

Katko said the new location is an example of another course success story that is stimulating the local economy.

"He [Steigerwald] took a part of downtown that was arguably a difficult part and he’s invested in it and look at what we have here, we have another great place that’s a part of the rebirth and renaissance of downtown," Katko said.

The curriculum for the course is in part developed by a team of 10 local businesses, including input from Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (WISE) Business Center Director Joanne Lenweaver.

"They learn to be courageous," Lenweaver said. "They have changed their focus, they have doubled in size, they have increased their employees."

Those interested in participating in the 2016 emerging leaders course must own a small businesses that has been in existence for three years and employs at least one additional person.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.