University at Buffalo School of Management

Buffalo Business - Autumn 2014

The magazine for alumni and friends of the UB School of Management

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Page 23 of 31

It's a Wednesday morning in May and a group of small-business owners are gathered around a table at Gerard Place in Buffalo. They repre- sent a wide variety of industries: hair salons, a restaurant, a furniture store and more. The facilitator leads a discussion about communication issues, such as how to handle feedback and criticism. This was just one meeting of the inaugural Allstate Entrepreneur Support program, which brought together nine business owners on select Wednesdays from March through July to help transform Buffalo's Kensington-Bailey business district. The program is made possible thanks to a $75,000 grant from The Allstate Foundation and a partnership between the School of Management's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), the Bailey Avenue Business Association and UB's Office of Government and Community Relations. The grant provides discounted tuition for partici- pants, and graduates receive financial support to make improvements to their business locations. The pilot program was modeled after the successful Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program, a joint venture with the CEL and UB's Center for Urban Studies. The CEL has run the MWEE program since 2004, and The Allstate Foundation has funded it since 2005. But, unlike the MWEE program, the Allstate Entrepreneur program takes place right in the community so the entrepreneurs can easily get back to business. "It's a very interesting group of nine people," says Paul Diamond, who co-owns Bailey's Furniture with his wife, Linda. "What originally attracted me was the idea of putting money toward our business. But now we look forward to the meetings and getting together." Darrell Shepherd, owner of Shepherd's Liquor, says the program has helped him to focus on his business's goals and objectives, both in the long and short term. "I just joined a gym and, when you first start there, they give you an hour with a personal trainer," says Shepherd. "This class is like having a personal trainer for an entrepreneur." Shepherd and the other entrepreneurs in the pro- gram benefit from seminars, networking, mentoring and additional resources to help grow their businesses. It's not only an advantage for the individual business owners, but it's also helping to create a support network between the neighboring businesses to make a larger impact in the area. Two of the businesses actually are neighbors: Damone Henderson's Barber Business is right next door to Civic Davis' New Style Records and Movies on Bailey Avenue. Henderson says he's been cutting hair for 24 years but didn't go into business for himself until 2012. "Hair will never stop growing and you can't put it in a machine," Henderson says about why he decided to open his shop. "I enjoy the customer service and inter- acting with people, and the program has helped me to become a better listener to know what my customer wants." Next door, Davis opened New Style in 1994. As a 20-year veteran of the music industry, he has seen the B B Autumn 2014 New Program Boosts Buffalo's Kensington-Bailey Business District Community Impact Photos: Tom Wolf "This class is like having a personal trainer for an entrepreneur." — Darrell Shepherd Owner, Shepherd's Liquor

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