With lively applause from fellow participants, the first cohort of the Columbia Community Business Program (CCBP) received letters of completion from Dean Glenn Hubbard on May 10, 2010, in the Hepburn Lounge at Columbia Business School. Professor Murray Low, director of the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center, awarded the letters to the 12 participants.
“You are making your community better and stronger,” Low said, “and giving back to your community by creating dynamic businesses.”
The program was launched in the fall of 2008 as a collaborative effort between Columbia Business School, Columbia Law School and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. It is designed to support the growth and development of businesses and not-for-profit organizations in Upper Manhattan. The 12 participants who completed the program represent a diverse group of businesses, including stores and restaurants from Upper Manhattan, which all have at least $250,000 in annual revenue.
Kelvin Walters, managing director of the Creole Restaurant and Supper Club, located in Harlem, said the program helped him focus on growth and provided a sounding board for ideas. “Entrepreneurs are constantly talking to themselves,” he said, “and in the program we could do it out loud.”
Meeting eight times per year, the participants took part in one-on-one business coaching, professionally facilitated peer-learning sessions and educational lectures. The curriculum for the two-year program included topics such as cost control, customer retention and operations management.
“We can help accelerate the growth process and you don’t have to learn by making every mistake yourself,” Low said.
Four of the 12 participants will be taking part in the first Annual Crain’s New York Business Perfect Pitch Competition on May 25, 2010, along with students and alumni from Columbia Business School.
Active recruiting is underway for the next CCBP class. The program is expanding to include business owners from across New York City, as well as Upper Manhattan, who have a desire to grow and have at least $250,000 in revenue.