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CEO FOCUS: Paying it forward through mentorship

By Robert M. Simpson


One of the ways we encourage our members to engage in the success of our regional economy is by actively participating in the success of other businesses, particularly those just starting out, or looking for opportunities to take their product, technology, or service to the next level.

At The Tech Garden, we have a network of mentors and entrepreneurs in residence ( that have stepped up to share their time, experience, and knowledge with members of our incubator. They coach, advise, and inspire.

Our Up Start program ( brings together the resources of business organizations and community partners to give aspiring entrepreneurs and new business owners the tools and networks they need to thrive. Up Start also utilizes a resource pool and leverages CenterState CEO’s membership to connect program participants to service providers, mentors and subject-matter experts within their industry. To learn about opportunities to engage in this network, contact CenterState CEO Director of Community Investment Andrew Obernesser at

Our organizational partner, the Central New York Biotech Accelerator (, owned and operated by SUNY Upstate Medical University, is focused on growing biotechnology companies through programs such as its annual Medical Device Innovation Challenge (MDIC). The CNYBAC is currently seeking volunteer mentors from CenterState CEO’s membership for the MDIC that can provide skills and expertise in the areas of regulatory compliance for medical devices, project management, product design/development, engineering, manufacturing, quality systems, and product marketing for startup companies. Mentors are assigned to each team based on specific goals to be accomplished during the program. 

Whether it’s networking with fellow members for new business opportunities or passing your expertise and institutional knowledge on to the emerging businesses in our community, engaging with CenterState CEO’s network of businesses, programming, and partnerships is among the best ways to take advantage of your membership, while also making an impact. As always, please reach out (email: to learn more about how you can get involved.             

Robert M. Simpson is president and CEO of CenterState CEO, the primary economic-development organization for Central New York. This article is drawn and edited from the “CEO Focus” email newsletter that the organization sent to members on July 15.

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