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How the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program helped a Syracuse small-business owner

By Eric Reinhardt

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Ellen Goldberg, co-owner of CrossFit Syracuse, LLC at 3030 Erie Blvd. East in Syracuse, was among 20 entrepreneurs who were part of the 2019 class in the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program. (ERIC REINHARDT / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE — A program of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) taught a Syracuse business owner “to rely on community.”

“It’s interesting because that’s a huge part of our business model at the gym. The community here is a huge aspect of what we do,” says Ellen Goldberg, co-owner of CrossFit Syracuse, LLC at 3030 Erie Blvd. East in Syracuse.

Goldberg was among 20 entrepreneurs who were part of the 2019 class in the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program. She spoke with CNYBJ on Nov. 11. 

The Emerging Leaders program provides free entrepreneurship education and training for executives of small, “poised-for-growth” companies that are potential job creators, as described in an SBA news release. This “intensive” executive entrepreneurship series includes nearly 100 hours of classroom time. It also provides opportunities for small-business owners to work with experienced coaches and mentors, attend workshops, and develop connections with their peers, local leaders, and the financial community.

When the business launched seven years ago, Goldberg admits she became “entrenched” in her owns ways and thoughts and didn’t really “look outside much” for help and inspiration.

But meeting her fellow entrepreneurs in the program and becoming aware of all the resources available to small-business owners “really opened” her eyes to “rely on others.”

“…and just connect more in the same way that we encourage our clients to do in the gym,” says Goldberg.

Goldberg and husband, Dan, launched the business in September 2012. They currently have 16 employees. CrossFit Syracuse operates in a 5,800-square-foot space. 

She learned about the program through one of CrossFit’s clients. “It came at a time when we were heavily thinking about where do we go next with our business,” says Goldberg. “It just seemed like the perfect answer to our problems.”

The Emerging Leaders program “reinforced” the idea that strategic planning is an “ongoing process” in the way that an owner runs a business. “[Planning] isn’t a one-time thing. This is something that we will continue to do and refine every month of every year,” she notes.

The Goldbergs are hoping to expand their space for group-training sessions, but they’re still working to determine the best way to handle such an expansion. They’d also like to expand and grow CrossFit Syracuse’s personal-training program, which has been a “strong” component of the business since it opened, according to Goldberg.

Since its inception in 2008, the SBA’s Emerging Leaders initiative has trained more than 5,000 small-business owners nationally, creating more than 6,500 jobs, generating over $300 million in new financing, and securing in excess of $3.16 billion in government contracts. Now in its ninth year, Syracuse is one of dozens of participating Emerging Leaders locations nationwide. 

With the 2019 class, 165 Central New York entrepreneurs have completed the program since it launched in Syracuse.   

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