As the community’s college, a large portion of our mission is to provide workforce development pathways for our students so that they can be properly prepared to be employed by the region’s businesses, hospitals, corporations, schools, and more. We take our responsibility to supply the area’s local industries with their workforce very seriously and we truly celebrate each connection that is made between a SUNY Broome student and a local employer. It is even more exciting when SUNY Broome not only is able to support the growth of our educated workforce, but when we can facilitate the community’s economic development through our support of new businesses.
On Wednesday, November 17, 2021, members of the campus community met in SUNY Broome’s collaborative space within the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator to celebrate the impact of SUNY Broome’s commitment to fostering local entrepreneurship.
Dr. Kevin E. Drumm, President of SUNY Broome, hosted a press conference to publicly celebrate the partnership between SUNY Broome’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Center and the 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year, Ewelina Zajac-Holdrege, Founder and Creative Director at Idea Kraft.
“We are so pleased to honor one of our own entrepreneurs, Ewelina Zajac-Holdrege, as the recipient of the 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year. Our partnership with Ewelina Zajac-Holdrege and her full service creative agency, Idea Kraft, is the perfect example of the power of community partnerships and the resources that they provide,” said Dr. Drumm.
Since 2005, SUNY Broome has run the Entrepreneurial Assistance Center, which is a collaboration between the Binghamton Local Development Corporation and Broome Triad. Since its creation, SUNY Broome’s EAC has hosted 18, 60-hour programs for start-up entrepreneurs and growing businesses. So far, we have supported over 600 new businesses with action-items like business plan development, technical assistance, and specialty certifications.
Ewelina’s success story is the kind that gives you chills. Like so many entrepreneurial giants before her, her beginnings were humble. She emigrated from Poland to the United States in 2004 with only a backpack full of clothes and a couple hundred dollars in her pocket. After working as a graphic designer, she decided to create a freelance design agency out of her basement in 2012. A year into the life of her company, Ewelina connected with the EAC at SUNY Broome Community College to seek support with her business plan, as she completed her application for the BLDC/EAC Business Plan Competition. That collaboration led to her eventually winning that competition – the first of her many, many entrepreneurial successes.
When it came time to apply for a New York State Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certification, Ewelina reached out to the EAC again and has maintained this certification, which is designed to assist women-owned businesses in obtaining contracts, ever since.
Even though many may deem her abundantly successful company as no longer in need of SUNY Broome’s services, we are so truly pleased that Ewelina has remained a constant friend of the EAC and continues to attend our networking events and workshops.
If you are contemplating starting a business and have been inspired by Ewelina’s story, you are encouraged to join the Center’s next class in September 2022, which will be a hybrid setting of both virtual and in- person sessions. You’ll learn everything that you need to turn your idea into reality, and make your business a success.