With the help of the Business Council of Westchester, Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s administration convened a meeting of business, education, governmental and other County leaders to discuss ways in which Westchester can assist new businesses looking to thrive here in our backyard through the cultivation of “incubators.”
“Incubators” are nearly all-inclusive business development centers that assist new businesses with an array of services. Service possibilities include seed funding marketing, legal, and accounting services, office space, mentoring and technical assistance.
The summit, with about 40 participants in attendance, was formed when business leaders expressed to the new administration the need to cultivate fresh ideas and turn them into winning businesses that can succeed here in Westchester.
Latimer said: “Things are changing in the world of business, from the way we shop to the way we communicate, therefore the County must adjust as well. We have had success in the past attracting major corporations who chose to call Westchester home – but future business ideas are coming from smaller organizations, start-ups, and entrepreneurs who have an interesting idea and are able to turn it into a profitable business. We must figure out how we in government can shift what incentives we can offer to help these new businesses take off – and that is what the point of this summit was.”
The discussion was moderated by Westchester County Deputy Director of Economic Development Bridget Gibbons. Gibbons said: “This is a first step in a series of conversations with current and potential business leaders about the County’s role in turning Westchester into a hotbed of incubator activity. We have the diverse workforce companies want, we have access to vibrant downtowns to attract new customers and we have the office space available to house those who want to succeed here. This summit is all about how we can connect the dots and help Westchester become the place to be for new, innovative ideas.”
The “incubator” summit was hosted in conjunction with the BCW. Business Council President and CEO Marsha Gordon said: “The Business Council represents all business in Westchester – and we particularly embrace small business development here. When I reflect back on my work over the years with incubators, I think about a conversation I had about 17 years ago with Westchester Community College about starting an incubator. This is an idea that exists here in Westchester County and I look forward to partnering with County government to foster an environment that can help some of these small start-ups, who want to call Westchester home, have the opportunity to do so.”
Westchester Community College (WCC) played host. WCC Assistant Dean of Workforce Development Jeanne Maloney said: “Today’s discussion is really significant to us because here at the college we have been working in this field and always welcome input on best practices and how to utilize the resources we have here in Westchester. We thank the County and BCW for holding this important discussion.”