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An Open Letter: We Are a Region of Entrepreneurs

By Rob Simpson and Kyle Blumin


Upstate New York is quickly becoming the model for reinvention. Change agents are leveraging the landscape from Albany to Buffalo that is home to nearly 500,000 students, billions of dollars of research and development, fantastic cost structures, and myriad lifestyle outlets. Entrepreneurship is leading us into a future that builds upon our history of innovation. 


Entrepreneurial pursuits are creating tremendous energy. While there are signs of the impact that new ventures are having on our region, their energy is often overshadowed for many people. However, it’s exciting to watch and to be a part of an economy in transition. We’re creating a more diverse economic base with increased investment, development, new products, and jobs. As time progresses, the signs of a new kind of growth are becoming easier to see. The turn toward prosperity is under way.


As a result of the entrepreneurial mindset, we have greater control over our own destiny. We are who we think we can be and not limited to what we once were. We write this letter to begin an important series with The Central New York Business Journal, illustrating that we truly are “A Region of Entrepreneurs.” The talent and unique resources we possess make this a great place to start a new business and thrive.


Over the next six months, we will shine a light on upstate New Yorkers that:


- Have started and successfully exited startup companies


- Support the entrepreneurial ecosystem through mentoring


- Work to collaborate and share best practices


- Provide seed-stage and venture capital


- Work for a startup


- Have built successful and on-going businesses


- Decided to stay in upstate New York after they graduated from local colleges and universities so they could build businesses.


As this series comes to life over the next half year, our guest columnists will show why this is a great place to start and build a business. We have all of the ingredients needed to build on the kind of growth that is already taking place and help it reach a critical mass. If you’re thinking about starting a new venture, the resources highlighted in this series will provide substantial value for you. 


So why did we decide to create this series? The reality is we understand the region and have experienced first-hand success right here in Upstate. 


Kyle Blumin was born, raised and currently resides in Upstate. Blumin graduated from the Syracuse University Martin J. Whitman School of Management in 1993 and has established a record of success as an entrepreneur, investor, operator, and mentor. Three successful business exits, experiences in turnarounds, angel-funded startups, mergers and acquisitions, as well as principal investment have given Blumin a unique skill set. He truly believes that this region is a great place to start a company.


Rob Simpson is a Utica native. He attended Colgate University and Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Government, before moving to Washington to work in the U.S. Senate. Simpson returned to Central New York for the lifestyle that it represents — the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks, the sense of community and the tremendous possibility to make a real difference — something you don’t easily find in D.C. 


In Syracuse, Simpson joined together two long-standing business organizations to create CenterState CEO, the region’s premiere business leadership organization. Simpson has developed or expanded assets that have helped to propel a burgeoning entrepreneurial environment in the region, including the nation’s leading privately funded emerging business competition, programs to partner university researchers with the private sector, and one of New York’s most successful business incubators, assisting hundreds of promising companies, and leveraging millions of dollars in new, private investment.


For those of us who have been deeply involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the benefits to the region are obvious. We know that as you get a chance to read the series over the coming months, you’ll concur that the benefits are exponential. Substantial growth is in our future. We ask that you start to take notice and get involved. Start a company, invest in one, become a mentor, or provide support. The more that you play a role, the faster we will all benefit from the success. Follow us on Twitter, reach us on LinkedIn, or contact us directly. We’d love to help you plug into the region’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.  


Robert M. (Rob) Simpson is president and CEO of CenterState CEO. Contact him via email at: Kyle Blumin is an entrepreneur in residence at Syracuse’s StartFast Venture Accelerator. Contact him on Twitter at @kyleblumin





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