(BINGHAMTON, NY) Broome County Executive Jason Garnar and Legislature Chairman Daniel J. Reynolds joined representatives from Binghamton University and the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator today to unveil the recipients of a countywide entrepreneurship grant program to fund student start-up businesses.
Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said, “The Student Entrepreneurship Grant Program is another example of the power of partnerships in Broome County. Together with Binghamton University, SUNY Broome and the County Legislature, I am excited to support the development of young entrepreneurs as they bring vitality to our local economy and community.”
“The Legislature is proud to support the Student Entrepreneurship Program here at Binghamton University,” said Legislature Chairman Dan J. Reynolds. “We look forward to seeing these young entrepreneurs succeed, their businesses grow, and the jobs they will hopefully create here within our community.”
Working with students at Binghamton University and the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator, Broome County created a program to address the ‘brain drain’ and foster the innovation economy. Members of the Broome County Department of Planning closely collaborated with University students to research and assess entrepreneurship grant programs that have been successful in other parts of the country. This was backed up by a survey of 667 students at Binghamton University and SUNY Broome, with results indicating that 80% would be interested in staying in the local area upon graduation if there was a countywide entrepreneurship grant program to fund student startups.
As the program developed, it was refined by the expertise and experience of the entrepreneurship professionals at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator.
“Grant recipients are given more than a check, they are part of a comprehensive program that helps nurture their ideas into fully formed businesses,” said Frank Evangelisti, Director of Planning for Broome County.
With funds from the Hotel-Motel Economic Development and Marketing fund, grants of $5,000 were awarded to the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator to be provided to two student-led firms. The two student-companies selected as grant recipients in 2018 were Enhance VR and AdamaDoll.
Enhance VR is a company based on virtual reality that was founded by Matthew Gill, a Binghamton University electrical engineering master’s student in the Watson School of Engineering.
AdamaDoll was founded by Binghamton University student Hazell McKenzie. McKenzie is currently pursuing her master’s degree in social work in the College of Community and Public Affairs. The company produces a specialized doll to assist children who may have suffered from abuse. The doll is designed to encourage open discussion to help the child feel less intimidated to provide information. McKenzie was also a contestant on the Food Network’s show ‘The Worst Cooks of America’.
Broome County is hoping to extend the program into 2019 with another of another round of funding for the Incubator to award these student entrepreneurship grants.