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October 27, 2012

New Chamber chair want to create entrepreneurial center

I realize it is kind of late now, a few days after the event. However, here's my piece on the annual Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce bash on Thursday. Scott Heck electricfied the room with his speech an incoming board chair.

The pic is of Heck and the chamber's omnipresent membership director Judy Braatz, who is also featured in this month's Rochester Magazine's Single in the City issue.


His voice cracking with emotion, Scott Heck told the crowd at Thursday's annual Rochester Area Chamber Celebration about his wife's experience of being laid off and her struggles to launch her own business.

Heck recalled her calling him in 2002 to say she had been laid off. While he was apprehensive, she was excited.

Get_photo"She said, 'I don't know what I'm going to do, but I want it to be fun. Whatever I do, I want it to be my passion,'" he said.

In the end, she decided to open a floral business specializing in design with a European flair. Even though he was a leader in his RBC Wealth Management office, Heck says he didn't know where to point her for help to start a new business.

However, Pat Heck worked it out and launched Le Jardin. One of her first gigs was providing flowers for the chamber's 2002 annual meeting. Still choking with emotion, he said that this year's event marked her final night with Le Jardin. After creating a successful small business, she has sold it to one of her employees.

"Everything thing Pat (Heck) did, she did herself. She did it on her own," said Heck, pausing to gain control over his tears. "Wouldn't it be cool if there was one place for people like her to go to get their questions answered?"

As the incoming chamber board chairman, he is proposing creating just such a place. Calling his concept an entrepreneurial center, he described it to the hundreds of local business leaders.

"It'll be a place for one-stop shopping to come for the advice you need to start your own business," Heck said. "Let's get this figured out. That's my deal as this year's chair."

He pointed out that the chamber has more than 700 members that are businesses with four or less employees. An entrepreneurial center is way for the chamber to better serve those members.

"This chamber's all about you. Everything is about making life better," Heck said.

Heck's speech followed the annual presentation of business awards.

• Business of the Year: Sontes. Owner Tessa Leung, who opened the popular restaurant and wine bar at the corner of Historic Third and South Broadway in 2006, accepted the award,

• Chamber Volunteer of the Year: Mark Schleusner of Mayo Clinic won the award for his work with the chamber's STEM education initiative.

• The Lamp of Knowledge award: The annual award for outstanding work with education was presented to Rochester Community and Technical College President Don Supalla.

• Chamber Ambassador of the Year award: Following a long list of his activities and accomplishments with the chamber's Ambassador program, the award went to Ken MacIver of Greenway Cooperative.


I would recommend watching these two videos to see that it is being done in other areas. We are seeing the beginning of a Startup Community in Rochester in my opinion.

This seems like old paradigm thinking by the Chamber. Although it could create some resource sharing by the different organizations involved, it does seem unrealistic to be a "one stop shop". I recently heard of, which seems to be this concept in a digital format. Might make more sense for entrepreneurs to use this. Be curious to see how this pans out, considering the Chamber is a member only organization, will they really open this up to the public?

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