About Us

Our Mission

To increase the vitality of the local and area economy by recruiting, nurturing, and training a diverse group of emerging and mature businesses, providing them with business incubation, development, education, market access, and credit assistance, using highly skilled trained professional counselors.

SSIC’s broad clientele includes aspiring, new, and existing entrepreneurs, women, minorities, low income individuals, individuals with disabilities, and those interested in food product development and manufacture. SSIC provides the intellectual, monetary, and leadership capital that helps entrepreneurs succeed in establishing profitable and sustainable businesses.

About SSIC

The South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) was created by the nationally ranked Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (EEE) program at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. SSIC accomplishes its mission through its resident programs. Access to these programs is seamless to clients:

  • Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP), supporting clients and tenants of SSIC
  • WISE Women’s Business Center for women seeking to start or grow a business
  • Syracuse Commercial Test Kitchen (COMTEK) to help food entrepreneurs launch businesses
  • Start-up NY/ Program for Investment in Micro-entrepreneurs (PRIME) supporting disabled and low income entrepreneurs with training and assistance.

Our History

Opening April 1, 2006 in 1,700 square feet at the former showroom and warehouse of Dunk and Bright at 2610 South Salina Street in Syracuse, NY, SSIC immediately added space to accommodate a demand which continued unabated.  Since its founding in 2006, SSIC has:

  • Engaged 4,600 individuals in services
  • Provided 686 people with hands-on counseling, training, & mentoring
  • Assisted 831 businesses & created 384 new businesses
  • Aided 300 disabled or low income individuals, helping them register 70 businesses, of which 51 of are in operation
  • Helped secure $1.4 million in loans
  • Created 447 jobs & helped retain 123 jobs
  • Engaged companies with gross receipts of #31 million

SSIC and its resident programs have helped or engaged companies with gross receipts of $31 million. SSIC is also moving “beyond the box” of the South Side, to help create and support businesses in other developmental hotspots. SSIC was named Incubator of the Year in 2012 by the National Business Incubation Association and was recognized as the 2015 Award of Excellence for Outstanding Program Performance and Achievement and Dedication to the Entrepreneurs of New York State at the New York State Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP) Annual Conference.

The SSIC celebrated its 10th Anniversary in early 2016.

Our Staff

El-Java Abdul-Qadir

El-Java is a small business development and management consultant, working with aspiring entrepreneurship and startups in a variety of industries including retail, food production, service provision, and social enterprise. He presents talks on entrepreneurship and small business ownership as the key to economic development for local groups, including business consultants, social service providers, nonprofit organizations, as well as educational institutions and conferences throughout the country. El-Java has a vast knowledge-base and experience with challenges and opportunities related to self-employment in marginalized populations such as minorities and women, individuals with disabilities, veterans, and survivors of domestic violence. He is fascinated with the immigrant and refugee communities’ propensity towards entrepreneurship and their ability to navigate traditional and nontraditional funding sources and access to startup capital.

As an adjunct Professor of Practice in the Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises department, El-Java is also the director of the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC), a business incubator and small business service center in the City of Syracuse, which houses 30 resident clients in its’ 60,000 square foot facility and provides consulting services to another 350 unique small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs per year. In 2012, El-Java was a recipient of the Minority Small Business Champion of the Year Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration, given for his commitment to and impact on entrepreneurship and his work at the SSIC.

In addition to teaching EEE 446, Minorities and Women in a Business, El-Java has been a key member of the EEE 467 Entrepreneurial Consulting course, as a guest lecturer and in supplying small businesses for the students to consult. He has co-published articles about inclusive Entrepreneurship consulting, Storytelling in Entrepreneurial Education, and New Venture Financing.

El-Java is also the owner and chief operator of Excel Martial Arts Training Center, LLC, a martial arts and fitness center established in Syracuse, NY since 2009.

Samantha Brennan

Samantha is the Administrative Assistant at the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC), a project of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the day-to-day functions at the SSIC, supporting resident clients, maintaining the facility, and coordinating entrepreneurial events.

Samantha coordinates activities related to the New York State Entrepreneurial Assistance Program such as client enrollment and tracking of client progress. The SSIC works with as many as 300 program clients per year through business consulting and classes. She also serves as the liaison between the SSIC and Syracuse University’s Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship.