Cornell SC Johnson College of Business collaboration brings $1.6M federal grant to Southern Tier to attract international business

A collaboration between the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Binghamton University, and the Center for International Business Advancement has secured a $1.6 million federal grant from the Economic Development Administration. The cross-university, multi-year program, titled “Soft Landing on New York’s Southern Tier,” establishes a regional hub designed to attract foreign startups and scaleup companies by providing multidimensional assistance aimed at lowering information barriers to establishing operations in the region and supporting successful integration into the Southern Tier regional economy. Emphasis will be placed on recruiting international startups and corporate enterprises from the clean energy sector.

“At Cornell, we jumped at this unique opportunity for collaboration,” said Andrew Karolyi, Cornell’s principal investigator on the grant and the Charles Field Knight Dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. “It’s a strategic fit with our college’s engaged-learning initiative and focus on entrepreneurship. It’s also an opportunity for our business students, alongside Binghamton peers from the Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science, to engage, in real time, with foreign startups and scaleup companies attracted to our region, working first-hand with coaches and mentors from industry and our distinguished Cornell faculty.”

Cornell’s participation in the Soft Landing on New York’s Southern Tier Program will be managed out of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business Office of External Relations and Engagement.

“At the core of this Program is an exceptional partnership between two premier academic institutions in the region – Binghamton University and Cornell University,” notes Elena Iankova, founding director of the Center for International Business Advancement, and the Soft Landing Program’s operational lead at Binghamton University. “Both universities have strong commitment to community-engaged learning, and the Soft Landing Program brings complementary value by directly immersing students in global networks and clean energy endeavors, nurturing skills for operating successfully in a world that is becoming more and more interdependent, as climate change and the COVID pandemic clearly demonstrate.”

To help participating companies consider how best to grow their ventures from a Southern Tier base, student teams will be partnered with Soft Landing participating companies to assist with market research and business plans. Housed in the Center for International Business Advancement at Binghamton, the larger program expects also to provide a variety of services to the incoming foreign companies, such as immigration and visa assistance, legal and government compliance advising, networking with potential investors, and cultural and translation services.

The Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell University (CREA) was among the sixteen strategic organizational partners expressing engagement support for the Binghamton-Cornell Soft Landing Program proposal. “We believe the Soft Landing Program will have an important positive impact on the region’s economy and its status as a thriving hub of startups and innovation,” said Tom Schryver, CREA Executive Director, and the David J. BenDaniel Faculty Advisor, BR Ventures at Cornell University. “We are excited about the great potential of the project.”

The Binghamton-Cornell Soft Landing Program award was announced by NYS Senator Charles E. Schumer, highlighting that the program is estimated to create 365 jobs and generate $2.7 million in private investment. “This funding will help to attract new employers, create good-paying jobs and jumpstart the region’s economic development as we continue to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Schumer. “Now, many more will see what I’ve long-known: that the Southern Tier and broader Upstate New York region are on the rise.”


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