CU Grow Graduates its Third Cohort of Minority-, Women- and Locally Owned Businesses

Columbia-led initiative provides one-on-one guidance for growth to business owners looking to take the next leap

December 26, 2019

CU Grow: Vendor Development Program, a Facilities and Operations initiative designed to help minority-, women- and locally owned (MWL) business owners build capacity and develop a formal, three-year growth plan, graduated its third cohort at a ceremony held on December 11, 2019. 

The cohort, comprised of 16 graduating businesses that included architecture firms, HVAC contractors, ductwork fabricators, cleaning services, lighting experts, and more, joins 29 other businesses who have completed the program since its inception.

The program matches business owners with experienced coaches from the University and partner organizations, based on the specific needs of the business and the coach’s areas of expertise.

    David M. Greenberg, executive vice president for Facilities and Operations, praised the coaches and business owners for their hard work in the program.

    The coaches follow a curriculum designed by the Columbia University School of Professional Studies to mentor the participants and support them in making executive level decisions and strategic thinking.  Over the course of nine months, business owners receive professional guidance to create and execute a multi-year growth plan and are invited to attend three procurement events to network and identify opportunities with purchasers at Columbia and other University affiliates.   After graduating, the businesses continue to receive support from the Facilities and Operations Construction Business Initiatives team.

    "I’ve been through many mentorship programs and have experienced the beneficial process of refining our skills, but unique to CU Grow is the focus on assessment and action within its own ecosystem,” said K.A. Stacie Alexiou, CEO of WATT + FLUX and graduate of the third cohort.  “CU Grow asks the hard questions and asks you to take initiative necessary to earn the opportunity to do the hard work.  The program gave us a fresh perspective on our business model, inspired innovation and provided new resources we needed to grow.”

    View photos from the ceremony.

    K.A. Stacie Alexiou, CEO of WATT + FLUX, spoke about her experience in CU Grow and how it helped transform her business.

    To date, the 29 vendor graduates from the program’s previous two cohorts have collectively earned a combined $30 million with Columbia University.

    To be eligible for the program, vendors must be certified minority- or women-owned business enterprises, or be based in Upper Manhattan or the South Bronx, have annual revenue between $250,000 and $5 million, and be an existing vendor of the University or provide a product or service that is needed at the University.  Eligible businesses can apply to be part of the fourth cohort by completing an application available on the CU Grow website prior to the January 31, 2020 deadline.

    The vendors who graduated from the third cohort include: