BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Nine entrepreneurs have graduated from the
inaugural Allstate Entrepreneur Support program, which brings
business owners together to help transform Buffalo’s
Kensington-Bailey business district.
The program is a partnership between the University at Buffalo
School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership
(CEL), the Bailey Avenue Business Association (BABA) and UB’s
Office of Government and Community Relations.
Entrepreneurs enrolled in the Allstate Entrepreneur Support
program benefited from seminars, networking, mentoring and
additional resources to help grow their businesses. The group met
on select Wednesdays from March through July at the Gerard Place
This pilot program was modeled after the successful Allstate
Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs program (MWEE), a joint
venture of the CEL and UB’s Center for Urban Studies. CEL has
run the program since 2004, and The Allstate Foundation has funded
it since 2005.
However, instead of having business owners come to the CEL, as
they do for the MWEE program, the program brought the meetings into
the community. In addition to the added convenience, the program
helps create a support network between neighboring businesses to
create a larger impact in the area.
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
A graduation ceremony and reception were held on Aug. 4 at
Imperial Plaza in the heart of the business district. After
graduation, participants will continue to receive mentoring,
improvements to their business locations, marketing and business
This year’s graduates include Sheila Clency, owner, Crowns
of Glory; Civic Davis, owner, New Style Records; Paul Diamond,
owner, Bailey’s Furniture; Pearl Hammond, owner, West African
International; Damone Henderson, owner, Barber Business; Brian
Lewis, owner, Zion’s Beauties; Hyacinth Patterson, owner,
Caribbean Experience; Darrell Shepherd, owner, Shepherd’s
Liquor; and Annette Watts, owner, Ann Rhod’s Tailoring.
Tom Ulbrich, assistant dean and executive director of the CEL,
says the program will continue to add businesses in the
Kensington-Bailey district, and will explore options for future
expansion in other city districts.
“Supporting local entrepreneurs is a critical component of
economic development that often gets ignored,” says Ulbrich.
“We sometimes have to remind people of the huge impact these
independent businesses have on the local economy — as these
businesses grow, the community prospers; as the community prospers,
Ibrahim Cisse, president of the BABA, works closely with
businesses in the Kensington-Bailey area.
“Businesses in this community don’t always have the
opportunity to take classes and learn about essential business
functions like profits and losses, merchandising and
marketing,” says Cisse. “The Allstate program provides
these entrepreneurs with a stable foundation they can use to
The Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by
subsidiaries of Allstate Insurance Corp., provides philanthropic
grants to nonprofit organizations. With a focus on teen safe
driving and building financial independence for domestic violence
survivors, The Allstate Foundation also promotes safe and vital
communities; tolerance, inclusion and diversity; and economic
Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with
individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More
than 1,200 CEL alumni employ more than 22,000 Western New Yorkers,
and their businesses are worth more than $2 billion to the local
economy. For more information, visit http://mgt.buffalo.edu/cel.
The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on
real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global
perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also
has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times,
Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its
programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates.
For more information about the UB School of Management, visit http://mgt.buffalo.edu.