Westchester Launches Business Accelerator

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It’s billed as a way to “speed the growth of early-stage companies with job-producing potential” in Westchester County, so that Westchester  can compete with the Silicon Valley, the Research Triangle, and Boston, as an “entrepreneurial epicenter.”

Yesterday, the  Westchester County Association announced the creation of the of  the “Blueprint Accelerator Network” to attract innovative businesses with the potential to create new jobs in the county.

“We are happy to report that one million square feet of vacant commercial space has come off the market, due in large part to companies purchasing buildings to repurpose, which is a cornerstone of The Blueprint for Westchester,” said Marissa Brett, Executive Director, Economic Development at the Westchester County Association.

One of the Blueprint’s goals is to create quality jobs and generate tax revenue for the residents of Westchester County by reducing the inventory of unoccupied commercial space by fifty percent — or three million square feet. Based on real estate industry calculations, attracting businesses to occupy that space would create 9,000-15,000 jobs, or three to five new jobs for every one thousand square feet absorbed.

Now, The Blueprint for Westchester is organizing a revolutionary Blueprint Accelerator Network to spur entrepreneurial growth and create the business giants of tomorrow. “We are combining Westchester’s prime business resources — seed financing, top professional services, office space, and mentors – into one package to pave a pathway to success for early-stage companies with great potential to grow,” said William V. Cuddy, Jr., Chairman of The Blueprint for Westchester initiative. “We’re putting into practice a cutting edge economic development strategy.”

Accepted companies will commit to remain in Westchester following their graduation from the Accelerator.

The Blueprint Accelerator Network already has attracted $150 million in investment. Provident Bank, the Westchester Bank, Mahopac National Bank, M&T Bank and Community Mutual Savings Bank have committed a total of $100 million in debt financing.  An additional $50 million will come from in-kind contributions and private sector investors who have expressed interest in the initiative.

Accelerators vs. Incubators
Unlike small business incubators, which offer centralized office space and shared services to startup companies, business accelerators operate as “boot camps” for early-stage companies to prepare them to seek venture capital financing. The hope is that they will become the next Apple Computer, Facebook, or Google. Only a few companies are accepted into an accelerator through a highly selective process. Accelerators provide seed capital, access to legal, accounting, and marketing services, and partnerships with universities, and opportunities to work with established businesses in the early-stage company’s field. Once a company reaches the next stage of growth, it “graduates” and a new early-stage startup takes its place.

–Submitted by Carolyn Mandelker

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