By Tina Traster
In an effort to nurture two segments of Rockland County’s business sector, the Rockland Business Association (RBA) is adding two opportunities to its raft of offerings: a council geared to young professionals under 40 and a mentorship program to help women entrepreneurs who own a business.
The Rockland Emerging Business Owners & Professionals committee will be co-chaired by RBA members David Palma, co-founder of Payed Processing, and Jason Horowitz, Triforce Commercial Real Estate LLC. Both under 30, Palma and Horowitz say young professionals need support, encouragement, and a safe place to exchange ideas and concerns with other young professionals.
“We want to help provide tools and resources for younger people to succeed,” said Horowitz. “You can only learn so much in school. The real way to learn is by doing.”
Palma says it important to build a foundation for millennials who are finding it difficult to thrive in the Hudson Valley, according to a report by Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, a not-for-profit policy, planning, advocacy and research organization.
The report shows a decline in the number of young adults aged 20 to 39 in the Hudson Valley due to economic challenges. While 20-39-year-olds make up 27% and 28% of the population in the nation and New York state respectively, that number is 24% in the Hudson Valley, down from 27% in 2000.
Among the reasons behind this alarming decline in population are declining birth rates, outmigration from the region; high taxes, high cost of living, stagnant wages and a perception that there are fewer opportunities for professional growth.
“We want to make this group a haven for young people who are ambitious and motivated,” said Palma. “This group is for people who are looking for upward mobility.”
RBA’s chair Debra Boening will head up the AccelerateHER Program, which will provide opportunity and growth for 15 woman who run a Rockland-based or Rockland-affiliated business. Applicants for the program must be in business at least one year, and have $50,000 in business revenue.
“This monthly mentorship program will be a sounding board for growth and problem solving,” said Boening. “This is an ideal forum for writing a business plan.”
Applications can be downloaded from the RBA website. The mentorship program is open to members and nonmembers.