Abstract and Keywords
This chapter describes the University at Albany’s innovative $2.5 million Small Enterprise Economic Development (SEED) program. The program provides character-based microloans to low-income entrepreneurs in New York State’s Capital Region, supported by mentoring and guidance from local executives and graduate students. The chapter considers the opportunities and challenges of implementing such a program, based on the results of a pilot study. Although relatively new, SEED has generated some promising results relating to regional economic development. SEED may be a useful model for universities seeking to (1) extend credit to worthy entrepreneurs who are underserved by traditional funding sources; (2) enhance local competitiveness by stimulating economic development in inner-city neighborhoods and encourage social entrepreneurship. Unlike conventional economic development initiatives, which are typically targeted to high-tech firms, SEED is targeted to the “bottom of the pyramid” (Prahalad 2005). This unique program can be adopted by other universities seeking to promote regional economic and social development.
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