Michel Leading Expanded Business Growth Center in Springfield

Marla Michel

Springfield Technology Park announced Oct. 17 that it has launched the new Business Growth Center, reflecting its role in developing and sustaining a healthy and vibrant regional economy.  The center will provide office space to small businesses and access to free business resources, but will greatly expand its growth, capacity building and mentoring programs to businesses, particularly those whose owners are under-represented and poised for growth in the Pioneer Valley.         

According to Marla Michel, director of the new Business Growth Center, “Since its beginning, Building 101 in the Springfield Technology Park has served as a destination for businesses in all stages of development, not just start-ups. We have been mentoring companies for over 14 years. The Business Growth Center’s new and expanded emphasis on growth and helping the companies learn how to build capacity is in line with regional strategies and a logical next step for the center’s programming.”

Ricky Swaye, chairman of the Springfield Technical Community College Assistance Corporation Board, which owns the technology park, said, “The park makes the region’s fiber footprint possible and our collection of tenants enhances regional workforce and economic development.  The Business Growth Center is a natural extension of our mission. We are fortunate to have the cooperation of UMass Amherst and the expertise our director, Marla Michel, who is on loan to us from the university. “

Its newest initiative, the Stronger Businesses Program, in partnership with the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield and the Urban League of Springfield, will commence the week of Nov. 18, and is open to businesses that want to learn how to grow, plan and build capacity for the future.

Another new program, Capacity Building for Growth, offered in conjunction with the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, will bring national urban entrepreneurship experts from the consulting firm Next Street to the center to work with local companies in early December.

Next Street helps large organizations boost the capacity of small and minority-owned vendors to deliver on larger contracts, shortening and diversifying supply lines while making neighboring communities more vibrant.

Mentoring programs, provided by members of the regional business and entrepreneurship community, will be expanded, too.

Allan Blair, president and CEO of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, said, “Recent studies of our regional business community have identified the need for more sophisticated resources to help smaller businesses increase their capacity for growth. This new emphasis on capacity building at the Business Growth Center will provide a collaborative environment for small businesses to find the resources they need.”

Georgianna Parkin, state director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, a long-term tenant at the center, said, “Partnership with the Business Growth Center will enhance regional efforts of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center to build the capacity of businesses to innovate, and create sustainable jobs while strengthening the backbone of our economy: small business.”

The Business Growth Center will continue to host businesses in Building 101 - the Scibelli Enterprise Center.