• Blueprint Accelerator Network Launched by the Westchester County Association

  • MARCH 08, 2012 | ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

  • Accelerator Network Has Already Attracted $150 Million+ in Investment

  • Entrepreneurial hot spots throughout the nation are sprouting business “accelerators” to speed the growth of early-stage companies. Today, the Westchester County Association announces that the Blueprint Accelerator Network, L.L.C., has taken root in Westchester, paving the way to attract innovative businesses with the potential to create new jobs in the county...


    Bill Mooney, president of the Westchester County Association announces the creation of 'The $150 Million Game Changer, The Blueprint Accelerator Network,' at a press conference in White Plains earlier today.

    The Westchester County Association also announces it has made impressive progress in its The Blueprint for Westchester initiative, launched just 10 months ago. “We are happy to report that one million square feet of vacant commercial space has come off the market, due in large part to companies purchasing buildings to repurpose, which is a cornerstone of The Blueprint for Westchester,” notes Marissa Brett, Executive Director, Economic Development at the Westchester County Association. ”Space also has been filled as new companies move in and current companies expand. It is clear that the compelling message of The Blueprint has helped create a more optimistic business environment in the county.”

    One of the Blueprint’s goals is to create quality jobs and generate tax revenue for the residents of Westchester County by reducing the inventory of unoccupied commercial space by fifty percent -- or three million square feet. Based on real estate industry calculations, attracting businesses to occupy that space would create 9,000-15,000 jobs, or three to five new jobs for every one thousand square feet absorbed.

    Now, The Blueprint for Westchester is organizing a revolutionary Blueprint Accelerator Network to spur entrepreneurial growth and create the business giants of tomorrow. “We are combining Westchester’s prime business resources -- seed financing, top professional services, office space, and mentors – into one package to pave a pathway to success for early-stage companies with great potential to grow,” notes William V. Cuddy, Jr., Chairman of The Blueprint for Westchester initiative. “We’re putting into practice a cutting edge economic development strategy.”

    Nicholas Puro, Co-Chair of The Blueprint for Westchester’s Entrepreneurial Work Group which is spearheading the launch of the Blueprint Accelerator Network, emphasizes that “This is a defining moment in the future of Westchester County. Westchester now can compete with entrepreneurial epicenters such as Silicon Valley, the Research Triangle, and Boston. We will be able to attract, grow, and retain innovative businesses that will create jobs, jobs, and more jobs.” Accepted companies will commit to remain in Westchester following their graduation from the Accelerator.

    The Blueprint Accelerator Network already has attracted $150 million in investment. Provident Bank, The Westchester Bank, Mahopac National Bank, M&T Bank, Greater Hudson Bank, and Community Mutual Savings Bank have committed a total of $150 million in debt financing. An additional $50 million will come from in-kind contributions and private sector investors who have expressed interest in the initiative.

    The Blueprint Accelerator Network will provide early-stage companies access the rich intellectual capital of Westchester’s colleges and universities. “Westchester’s higher education institutions have a trove of resources to fast track the growth of promising businesses,” explains Dr. Kimberly Cline, President of Mercy College and Chair of the WCA Higher Education Committee. “Our pipeline of talented interns and potential employees, as well research and technology transfer opportunities, are valuable assets for business.”

    Private sector power
    The Blueprint Accelerator Network is funded by the private sector, and capital will be raised by the Westchester County Association, a not-for-profit organization. The Accelerator has been organized as a limited liability company that will be governed by a governance committee of business leaders. A selection committee will establish criteria for qualification and will include members with knowledge and experience in venture capital, business acceleration and innovative industries.

    “We will focus on attracting companies that are enjoying some success and have more than an idea” explains Mr. Puro. He notes that the Blueprint Accelerator Network is unique. “Unlike traditional ‘brick and mortar’ incubators, we’re not limited to one building. Instead we will pair with early-stage companies with the best space and services for their needs.”

    Partners of the Business Accelerator Network will offer accepted companies a variety of services. To date, they include legal services provided by Bleakley Platt & Schmidt, L.L.P., and Cuddy & Feder, L.L.P. Accounting services will be supplied by O'Connor Davies L.L.P., marketing and public relations services will come from Harrison Edwards, Inc., and technology services will be provided by Compufit. Normandy Real Estate Partners, Reckson, a division of SL Green Realty Corp., George Comfort & Sons, and RPW Group, are among several real estate companies that will offer commercial space. Many more to come.

    Accelerators vs. incubators
    Unlike small business incubators, which offer centralized office space and shared services to startup companies, business accelerators operate as “boot camps” for early-stage companies to prepare them to seek venture capital financing. The hope is that they will become the next Apple Computer, Facebook, or Google. Only a few companies are accepted into an accelerator through a highly selective process. Accelerators provide seed capital, access to legal, accounting, and marketing services, and partnerships with universities, and opportunities to work with established businesses in the early-stage company’s field. Once a company reaches the next stage of growth, it “graduates” and a new early-stage startup takes its place.

    Timeline
    Implementation of the Blueprint Accelerator Network is on a fast track itself. The legal entity will be formed and finalized by the end of Q1 2012. Candidate and selection criteria, as well as selecting members for the candidate selection committee, will be completed by the end of Q2 2012. The first call for business plans will occur in Q3 2012, when finalists will be identified and invited into the program. A second round of selections is scheduled to occur in Q4 2012.

    William M. Mooney, Jr., President of the Westchester County Association, adds that the Blueprint Accelerator Network will not only be a place in which home-grown Westchester entrepreneurs can take root, but it also will attract the best and the brightest entrepreneurial ideas from other regions. “Entrepreneurs don’t hesitate to move to communities prepared to offer them the right support, and that’s exactly what we intend to offer them right here in Westchester,” Mr. Mooney concludes.

    About the Westchester County Association
    The Westchester County Association (www.westchester.org) is the preeminent business membership organization in Westchester County. The Association is committed to business advocacy, economic vitality and to providing a strong and clear voice for the interests of businesses on the regional, national and international levels. Its key objectives are promoting positive economic development in the region; fostering business development; and providing its members with access and interaction with key public and private sector individuals, agencies and organizations.

    About The Blueprint for Westchester
    The Blueprint for Westchester is the Westchester County Association’s aggressive campaign to revitalize Westchester’s economy in collaboration with the county’s real estate, business, and academic sectors, and strong participation from Westchester’s six cities and County government. This multi-million dollar, multi-year initiative has been organized and driven by the private sector. Westchester is home to a highly educated workforce, a multi-billion dollar healthcare system, and internationally renowned cultural and recreational offerings. And with magnificent parks and preserves, excellent schools, beautiful communities, and highly-touted restaurants and retail establishments, Westchester cannot be beat in terms of our lifestyle.