Up Start

Up Start is a collaborative business development program that connects local, service based businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs to the tools and networks that help them thrive. Up Start offers introductory classes on business plan creation, business structure and assistance with launch – specifically focused on the needs of disadvantaged entrepreneurs. High-performing program participants located in our target neighborhoods in the Northside and Southside of Syracuse may be eligible for additional technical assistance and coaching.

Up Start brings together the collective resources of existing business organizations and community partners while also bridging the work of CenterState CEO’s Economic Inclusion and Innovation and Entrepreneurship portfolios. Each Up Start entrepreneur and business owner works with a program adviser to build a personalized path to successful business ownership and expansion.


Up Start’s 12-session training program, the Start It! Business Basics Class, helps entrepreneurs build skills and accumulate the tools they need to draft a comprehensive business plan that serves as the road map for launching their own business. Training is held at trusted community-based organizations across Syracuse, and taught by business owners from within the neighborhood. To augment the base curriculum, assessments and action plans in finance and credit; legal; and marketing and communications are developed through strategic partnerships with service providers in each area. Based on the action plans, entrepreneurs are connected to opportunities for continued training, improvement and system development.

Technical Assistance

High-performing program participants gain access to technical assistance and professional service providers through Up Start’s Resource Pool: a group ranging from graphic designers, to accountants, interior designers, and product manufacturers or any other resource that the entrepreneur identifies in their action plans as a need to advance their business. Up Start also leverages CenterState CEO business membership to connect entrepreneurs and business owners in the program to mentors from within their industry or to provide particular subject matter expertise.


Participants may be eligible to apply for a character-based, revolving loan fund created specifically to provide financing to Up Start entrepreneurs. Developed in partnership with Syracuse Cooperative Federal Credit Union, the organization that conducts the financial assessment and action plan, the fund acknowledges the foreseen or unforeseen difficulties that impact entrepreneurs in the program. The terms and criteria of the fund are more flexible and benevolent, and considers active participation in Up Start, the establishment of a financial action plan, and the pre- and post-loan technical assistance through the program as risk mitigating factors and attributes of a bankable entrepreneur.

Real Estate

Up Start works with community partners located in the Northside and Southside neighborhoods of Syracuse to identify key properties and develop a property inventory for entrepreneur placement. Based on the business plan developed in the program, entrepreneurs select the appropriate space and location to best reach their market. Up Start mobilizes the resources and supports to move entrepreneurs in to those key properties securing the funds to develop and design the space, negotiate a benevolent lease or purchase contract, and provide the follow-on technical assistance to market the new business to customers.