Through the Tariq Farid Foundation, we have been able to support many different worthwhile organizations. Most recently, we have had the opportunity to team up with the Spanish Community of Wallingford (SCOW), which helps members of the Hispanic community who are experiencing temporary financial setbacks.
Google does it. Major cities across the world do it. And now, thanks to a group of inspiring individuals, a small town of about 45,000 people in Connecticut is doing it — providing support for aspiring entrepreneurs with a small business incubator and co-working space.
HUBCAP Wallingford is the name of this special incubator, and what makes it so unique is that it is a collaboration between the local business community, entrepreneurs and the local school district designed to strengthen and expand downtown Wallingford as well as the entire state of Connecticut. Everyone wins and the community is made stronger.
The visionaries behind HUBCAP Wallingford are Dr. Salvatore Menzo, Wallingford Public Schools Superintendent; Liz Landow, Executive Director of Wallingford Center, Inc.; Vincenzo Landino, Global Community Manager, Market Edge; and Joe Mirra, the chairman of the Wallingford Economic Development Commission.
The Tariq Farid Foundation is a contributor to the project and in the time that I have spent with these individuals, it is clear that they have developed a program that could serve as a model for other communities across the United States.
They understand that technology has made it much easier to bring innovation and ideas to life. Often missing, however, are the means and resources to help today’s entrepreneurs follow their dreams and test the feasibility of their business ideas. By helping these entrepreneurs, HUBCAP is also helping the local economy and protecting the long-term health of the state’s economy.
The founders of HUBCAP also understand that often the most creative innovators and entrepreneurs can be found right in your own back yard. Given the encouragement and the resources, the youth of Wallingford are just as capable of developing the next big idea as anyone, thus the importance of the close partnership between HUBCAP and the Wallingford public school system.
In less than a year of operation, HUBCAP Wallingford has already helped 17-year-old Denisha Kuhlor turn her idea for a business into reality.
Why do I feel that the work of HUBCAP is so important?
While some private schools sit on endowments of millions or billions, many public school systems—such as Wallingford’s—struggle to find the funding for basic, much less innovative, programs. This didn’t stop Wallingford Superintendent Dr. Menzo from searching for ways to provide the opportunities, such as those provided by HUBCAP, that his students deserve and need to become competitive in today’s global marketplace.
Last night, I was honored to take part in HUBCAP Wallingford’s inaugural “Entrepreneurs Speak” series. This intimate Q&A session provided an opportunity to share my experience of starting small businesses and growing them into large, successful companies. The conversation was made great by the questions of those who attended, including entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, students and those who were simply curious to learn more.
When it was over, several people told me that they were inspired by my talk. I was very appreciative of their thoughts, however, I was the one who ended up being so impressed and inspired by what this small group of dedicated men and women have accomplished. It makes me very encouraged to know that tomorrow’s entrepreneurs are in such good hands today.
The first was Master’s Manna, a local food pantry by first glance, but in reality so much more. I was given a tour by Executive Director Cheryl Trzcinski, and I was stunned at what they are able to accomplish with a limited staff and how they have so many engaged volunteers.
Edible Arrangements has provided fresh fruit to the organization in the past, but I had no idea about the full range of services until I took the tour.
The place was a beehive of activity while we were there: families were shopping for food at the food pantry, others were eating in the Family Dining Center, clothing was being sorted and hung by volunteers, two students from the Summer Youth Employment Program were in orientation, the Community Health Center was in operation providing primary health care to anyone who needed it, and much, much more.
Cheryl said it was just a “typical day.”
We are fortunate to have people such as Cheryl and her team at Master’s Manna in our community.
I also had the pleasure of meeting recently with several founders of HUBCAP Wallingford, a small business incubator that works with our local school system to provide students with mentoring opportunities with local businesses.
After touring HUBCAP and hearing what its founders are trying to accomplish, I knew I had to help. Their mission reminded me of my own experience of working at a flower shop while in elementary school and being encouraged and inspired by the owner. I have been blessed to meet so many people over the years that gave me kind words of advice, and here is an organization doing the same.
When I created the Tariq Farid Foundation it was exactly these types of organizations that I was hoping to be able to support, and I was honored to be able to do so.
The passion of the individuals involved with these two organizations and the work they do is truly inspirational. I know that in every community across America there are similar organizations and individuals doing their part to build a stronger community, and I encourage you to seek them out and offer your support.
Sadly, there will always be a need, but fortunately there are those who are ready and willing to help. As leaders of our community, it is our responsibility to make sure they have the resources they need to fulfill their mission.