The U.S. Small Business Administration Upstate New York District announced nine small business owners from across Upstate New York have graduated from THRIVE – Emerging Leaders Reimagined, including Sarah Ficken, owner of New Moon Farmstead, LLC, in Munnsville. THRIVE is an entrepreneurship development program that helps small businesses grow and expand.

“Helping small businesses grow and flourish is crucial for a healthy local economy,” said Bernard J. Paprocki, SBA Upstate New York District Director. “This year’s THRIVE graduates have already started achieving their growth goals, such as hiring more employees, reaching new markets, opening brick-and-mortar locations or planning for succession. I congratulate them all on their achievements thus far and thank them for their outstanding collaborative efforts to support one another’s growth and contribute to the Central New York economy.”

A redesigned version of the SBA’s annual Emerging Leaders program, THRIVE, is a hybrid, six-month course aiming to help small businesses develop and execute strategic growth plans. Participants completed online learning modules and met in Syracuse twice a month throughout the course of the program, sharing business challenges, feedback and opportunities with one another.

This year’s class was the most geographically diverse of any prior years. Participants represented eight different counties – half of which are rural – and some traveled two or more hours both ways to learn and support their peers during in-person sessions; 40 percent of the graduates are women-owned small businesses, and 20 percent are veteran-owned small businesses.

The graduates recently presented their final strategic growth plans to a panel of SBA Resource Partners, including Small Business Development CentersSCORE MentorsWISE Women’s Business Center and the Veteran Business Outreach Center and received real-time feedback.

The Upstate New York District Office has hosted more than a dozen cohorts of the Emerging Leaders program over the past decade, including 11 in Syracuse and three in Albany, with 170 total graduates.

Nationwide, 70 percent of past program participants reported increased revenue, 65 percent added or retained employees and 83 percent reported giving money or time to charity. Past participants also reported $600 million in new government contracts, $112 million in new financing and 1,100 net new jobs created.

To learn more about SBA’s THRIVE program, including eligibility requirements and other locations outside of Upstate New York, visit

By martha

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