Meet your motivated neighbor

UP Start Syracuse is helping make dreams come true for seven local entrepreneurs. Discover why their business ideas are passions, not just plans.

Among the many people who dream of starting their own business are seven who may have a more than even chance at making it. 

The reason: A local organization has tapped their ideas as worthy of a boost

The “dreamers” are budding Syracuse-area entrepreneurs nurturing not just business ideas, but their special passions. Northside UP is the Syracuse nonprofit that’s helping them with access to resources and the personal attention that new businesses need to prosper.

Meet the seven entrepreneurs participating in UP Start Syracuse's inaugural program.

The staff at Northside UP, frustrated after seeing many fledgling businesses fail, chose seven aspiring entrepreneurs with especially compelling ideas to receive intensive, continuing support, training and personal mentorship. They call the project UP Start Syracuse.

UP Start taps into the city’s rich Northside, a diverse neighborhood that’s home to more than 30 nationalities and that’s historically been a landing spot for many immigrants, starting with an influx of Germans and Italians in the 19th Century. A number of the seven UP Start participants have Northside ties –- they either live there or plan to root their businesses there because of special connections they feel. But the program includes others, and is not limited by boundaries or municipal lines.

Who are these “dreamers” you’ll meet in the special report?

Aaron Metthe, 30, and his wife Maria fell in love with the Northside after moving to the area. Aaron’s dad hooked him on pour-over coffee, and now he aims to open a coffee shop with a community vibe, offering organic, fair-trade products.

Curtis Washington, 54, wants to launch That’s What’s Up, a mobile food truck and catering business. He’s worked in the food business all his life. While much of what he does has a Southern influence, he “infuses” his creations with ingredients that reflect diverse cultures.

Emma Voigt, 23, is another person who, like Metthe, fell in love with the Northside. For her, it happened after interning with Catholic Charities. Her Northside Messenger business is an accessories line that features handcrafted bags made from a variety of fabrics from around the world, many of them cultures represented on the Northside.

Leslie Morris, 42, is working on Stages, a product line of engraved jewelry to raise money for cancer research and awareness. The enterprise honors and remembers her sister Coretta, who died in 2007 after battling cancer.

Loretta Bachus, 42, plans to open a shoe boutique specializing in hard to find sizes. Sole of A Diva welcomes, particularly, the transgender and cross-dressing communities

Hari Bangaley Adhikari, 52, a refugee from Bhutan,hopes to open Bhutan House Restaurant, which would be a community gathering spot as well as a place to get a meal. He says the staff would dress in traditional garb in a setting where diners could enjoy floor seating, unique service patterns and decorations, as well as special performances.

Fesseha Kahsay, 50,  an immigrant from Ethiopia, wants to expand his Axum Earth Management business to help clients better connect to nature through their yard and garden.

Northside UP sees this project as the seed of an idea, the beginning not just for these seven, but for others who will follow them and learn from their mistakes and successes.

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