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October 21, 2013

Center for Entrepreneurship Is Now Open

One of the most important areas of the U.S. economy is the vibrant collection of entrepreneurs, who work long hours to build small, medium and even large businesses.

It should be no surprise that a reinvigorated Brooklyn has now become a hotbed for entrepreneurs. Recognizing the importance of this moment in time, St. Francis College is proud to announce the formation of the Center for Entrepreneurship. (

On Thursday, October 24 at 12:20, St. Francis alumnus Dennis Lacognata '76, Senior Vice President of Prompt Direct Inc. will speak about direct marketing for entrepreneurs. His talk, which is open to the public follows up on a visit by Christine Whelan, Vice-president of Sahadi’s Fine Foods, who spoke about the generational challenges facing a family owned company.

“We want to be the clearing house for small- and medium-sized businesses in Brooklyn,” said Dennis Anderson, Chair of the Department of Business Management and Information Technology and Executive Chair of the new Center. “Anyone looking to start a business or who already has one will be able to come to us to get the tools they need to be successful. They’ll learn things like which banks provide funding and who to contact, where to get legal advice, and how to take advantage of pro-bono services.”

In turn, students at St. Francis College will have the opportunity to gain real-world experience through internships, as well as part-time and full-time jobs with the companies and entrepreneurs associated with the Center.

“External relationships are key,” said Mary Gelormino, the Center’s Executive in Residence. “By bringing in professionals, we give students the value of meeting people who are successful in unique areas. Each speaker we bring to St. Francis will focus on a different area of entrepreneurship, so over the course of a semester, our students will develop a comprehensive foundation to start their own business.”

The Center also helps to formalize the already existing partnerships St. Francis has with business promoting organizations such as the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership as well as many of the 22,000 small businesses located in the borough.

“The importance of entrepreneurship is particularly apparent in a market like New York, where immigrant and minority entrepreneurship drive job creation and community economic vitality at a rate higher than most other cities,” said Management Professor Patrice Perry-Rivers, the Assistant Director of the Center.

“Our center is poised to help fuel the economic vitality created by our region’s melting pot of entrepreneurs by training and educating future entrepreneurship leaders,” she said.

Academics are the core of the Center with a minor in entrepreneurship well on its way to completion. The first class on Entrepreneurship and Innovation was offered in the fall and filled up immediately. The second course will be offered in the spring with the rest of the courses for the minor quickly ramping up.

“There was huge demand for the first class,” said Gelormino, who has more than 25 years of experience in business and has worked with a number of entrepreneurs and business incubators. “Our students know that a program like this is not limited to business majors. We want to teach the skills of creativity and inspire people to follow purpose and passion. It can be taught to anyone.”

Future courses will deal with a variety of aspects in becoming an entrepreneur: legal issues, finance, human resources, marketing, and social media. Students will also have access to a number of networking functions so they can build their own connections.

Professor Anderson’s plan is for the minor to grow to become a major and ultimately become part of a Management Graduate Program at the College. At the core, though, sits the idea of social entrepreneurship and the Franciscan ideal of making a difference in people’s lives.

“St. Francis of Assisi was the epitome of a social entrepreneur,” said Dr. Anderson. “We want to follow his lead and help create entrepreneurs who make giving back part of their mission.”

The Center for Entrepreneurship has already welcomed an impressive schedule of business leaders and entrepreneurs to speak at the College. You can watch videos of many of these talks on the Center’s website.

Photo: Entrepreneur professors Mary Gelormino with Dennis Anderson and Patrice Perry-Rivers.

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City’s five boroughs and beyond.


St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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