CU Grow Program Launches its Sixth Cohort of Minority-, Women- and Locally Owned Businesses

February 16, 2022

 The CU Grow: Vendor Development Program welcomed 21 new firms at its matching ceremony in February, launching the program's sixth year supporting minority-, women- and locally owned (MWL) businesses in strategizing their business growth. During the ceremony, executives from businesses specializing in engineering, painting, environmental consulting, marketing and communications, commercial equipment repair, and more, were introduced to their expert coach that will support them through the program curriculum.   

A University Facilities and Operations-led initiative, the CU Grow Program helps participating MWL firms build capacity and expand their business through opportunities with Columbia University and other large clients. The program follows a structured curriculum designed by the Columbia University School of Professional Studies, Construction Management Program, and using their knowledge in business development, procurement, project management, finance, and marketing, the expert coaches guide participants through the program by helping them define their business policies and procedures. 

Through program procurement events, participants learn more about current opportunities within Columbia University and network with other large stakeholders including purchasers from various Columbia University campuses. Participants also receive one-on-one strategy sessions with a Marketing Expert in Residence who educates participants on strategies for social media, web marketing, and other digital outlets, as well as with a Construction Expert in Residence who provides high-level construction expertise in partnership with the School of Professional Studies' Construction Administration Master's Program. Adding two new components to the program’s curriculum, CU Grow has partnered with Columbia Law School's Entrepreneur Clinic to provide services for contract interpretation and negotiation support, and also with Columbia Print Services to support current participants and alumni with preferential pricing for design services on marketing their business. 

"Receiving my acceptance letter made me feel like an undergraduate kid getting accepted into Columbia!" said Nayana Mehta, President of N-M Strand Consulting and member of the sixth cohort. “I am very excited to join the team, work with my coach to gain new knowledge, and level up my business.” 

The program has graduated 84 firms in its previous five cohorts, awarded over $71.6M in contracts to participant firms, and approved 70 graduating firms to become Columbia University vendors. Vendors of the sixth cohort will graduate in December 2022.

The firms and expert coaches from the sixth cohort include:   

  1. Firm: Adnan Chowdhury, 4Holders LLC 
    Coach: Eveus Nazaire, Columbia University
  2. Firm: Priscilla Vazquez, American Commercial Equipment Repair 
    Coach: Carola Martinez Finlay Columbia University
  3. Srinivasan Rangarajan, Boomi Environmental LLC  
    Coach: Michele Wood, Michele Wood Consulting, LLC 
  4. Firm: Alex Torres, Bronx Altop Constrution Corp. 
    Coach: Omairys Rodriguez, Columbia University 
  5. Firm: Edward Gonzalez, CAG Construction Corp 
    Coach: Juan Adorno, JPX Social Enterprise, LLC  
  6. Firm: Carol Lynn Smith, Creative Source, Inc. 
    Coach: Peter Krask, The Creativity Guide 

  7. Firm: Tyrone Drakes and Keisha Drakes, Drakes Carpentry & Woodwork, LLC
    Coach: Patricia Warner, Covenant Seven Inc. 
  8. Firm: Christopher Wan, Dyno Group, Inc. 
    Coach: Lloyd Grant, KIP Total Marketing Solutions 
  9. Firm: Aja Jones, F.I Electrical Corp 
    Coach: Diana Benjamin, New Genesis Pathfinder  
  10. Firm: Giap Flores, GCF Consulting Engineer PC  
    Coach: Donald Niccoli Columbia University
  11. Firm: April Fenchak, Greenbuild Construction Group Inc 
    Coach: Paul Natter  Columbia University

  12. Firm: Gregory Carey, GT Development Enterprises Inc 
    Coach: Allan Suarez, All Renovation Construction LLC 
  13. Firm: Roland Powell, Infinite Horizons LLC 
    Coach: Jose Morel, Columbia University
  14. Firm: Oswaldo  Ochoa, Ochoa Enterprise, LLC
    Coach: Dennelle Clarke, Columbia University 
  15. Firm: Patricia Rodriguez, PAR Engineering PLLC 
    Coach: Anne Abelson, AA Marketing Consultancy, LLC
  16. Firm: Aladin Accilien, PETK, Inc.  
    Coach: Jim Sugaste, Columbia University 
  17. Firm: Barnar Flores, Quality Wet Paint, LLC 
    Coach: Deborah Romain, Deb Romain Consulting LLC 
  18. Firm: Shamsher Ashraf, Shine Construction Corp 
    Coach: Samuel Pierre, SMP Global Consultants 
  19. Firm: Nayana Mehta, Strand Consulting Corporation  
    Coach: Kim Chen, Columbia University
  20. Firm: Matthew Lee, Upper Restoration 
    Coach: Patricia Warner, Covenant Seven Inc. 
  21. Firm: Peterson Valcourt, Valcourt Consulting and Design 
    Coach: Patrick Danville, Meta