Operation: Start Up & Grow

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Do you want to start a business? Expand your existing business? Find all the resources in one location at this FREE conference for veteran entrepreneurs! Operation: Start Up & Grow is the premier veterans business conference in Upstate New York for our veterans and members of the military community who want to start or expand their own small business. The half-day event includes breakout workshops, networking sessions with guest experts and exhibitors, award ceremony, free breakfast and lunch. New for 2017 is the Rapid Response Elevator Pitch Competition for existing businesses. 

Questions? Interested in information for the 2017 conference? Please contact SBA at 315-471-9393 ext. 233.
Location: SRC Arena and Events Center,
4585 West Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY 13215-4585 (Free parking in Lot # 13)

The 2017 ONLINE REGISTRATION for attendees is now open! 



 NEW for 2017! The 2017 Rapid Response Elevator Pitch Competition is a regional business competition and showcase of established small businesses owned by current U.S. military service members or veterans. Applications from established businesses only will be accepted. The top three finalists will be showcased at the 2017 Operation: Start Up & Grow (OSUAG) Conference on March 16th at the SRC Arena in Syracuse, NY. Finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of judges and over 300 conference attendees for prize money donated by Rapid Response. All finalists will receive a cash prize to invest in their companies, with the winner receiving $500. For complete details on deadlines and eligibility, please review the Pitch Competition Flyer


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  • Allgaier Law Firm
  • AmeriCU Credit Union
  • Bellevue University
  • Berkshire Bank
  • Business Journal News Network
  • Central New York International Business Alliance
  • Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board
  • City of Syracuse Office of Neighborhood and Business Development
  • Columbia College
  • Cooperative Federal Credit Union
  • Easter Seals New York
  • Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR)
  • Greater Syracuse Business Development Corporation (GSBDC)
  • Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Syracuse University
  • Keller Williams Realty Syracuse
  • Key Bank
  • M&T Bank
  • Morrisville State College
  • New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC)
  • New York State Division of Veterans Affairs
  • North Country Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
  • NTTS
  • NYS Office of General Services, Procurement Services Division
  • NYS OGS, Division of Service-Disabled Veterans' Business Development
  • Office of the NYS Comptroller
  • Onondaga County Office of Economic Development
  • Onondaga Employee Leasing Services, Inc.
  • Rapid Response Monitoring
  • SCSD Literacy Zone
  • Site-Seeker Inc
  • Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College
  • Solvay Bank
  • South Side Innovation Center
  • SRC
  • SUNY Upstate
  • Syracuse SCORE
  • Syracuse Vet Center
  • T. Gschwender and Associates
  • The Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship, Whitman School of Business
  • The Tech Garden
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • University College of Syracuse University
  • USDA Farm Service Agency
  • USDA Rural Development
  • VA Network Contracting Office
  • Watertown Vet Center
  • WISE Women's Business Center

Interested in exhibiting at this great conference? Please contact Dan Rickman at daniel.rickman@sba.gov or 315-471-9393 ext. 250.

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8:15-8:45 Registration, Continental Breakfast & Networking with Exhibitors
8:45-9:00 Opening Ceremonies
9:00-9:05 Welcome

Keynote Address ~ Matthew Griffin, USA veteran, Combat Flip Flops CEO

9:35-9:55 Rapid Response Elevator Pitch Competition for Existing Veteran-Owned Businesses
  • Connections Central with Business Experts
  • Networking with Exhibitors
  • The Black Box of Small Business Financing Workshop
  • Tools to Increase Market Share Workshop
  • Government Contracting Workshop
10:45 Networking with Exhibitors
  • Connections Central with Business Experts
  • Networking with Exhibitors
  • Defining Your Marketing Mix Workshop
  • Contracting Panel- Ask the Agencies
  • Ask the Attorneys Workshop
12:00 Lunch Buffet

Award Presentations: 2017 Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award,
2017 Rapid Response Elevator Pitch Competition Awards, and FY 2016 SBA Patriot
Lender of the Year Award

12:35 Emcee Interview with Jason Young, USAF Veteran, Clark's Steakhouse owner
  • Connections Central with Business Experts
  • Networking with Exhibitors
  • Building Your Business Plan Workshop (Startups)
  • Hiring Your Team Workshop (Existing Businesses)
2:00 Conclusion




  photo of Matthew Griffin

Matthew “Griff” Griffin is a 2001 United States Military Academy graduate commissioned into the Field Artillery. Between 2003-2005, Griff deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan with 2d Ranger Battalion as a Company Fire Support Officer. He planned and participated in over 100 special operations direct action missions.  After departing the military in 2006 as a captain, Griff worked in the defense sector that eventually led him back to Afghanistan to assist with medical infrastructure development.  After witnessing the positive effects of economic growth in conflict areas, Griff co-founded Combat Flip Flops with a fellow Ranger and began the mission to manufacture peace through trade.  

  Barbara Carson photo

Ms. Barbara Carson joined the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in Washington, D.C, in June 2013.  She is the Associate Administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD), which aims to empower Veteran entrepreneurship. In this role, Ms. Carson oversees the OVBD team in formulating, implementing, administering and promoting policies and programs that equip veteran, service member (active duty, National Guard, Reserve), and military spouse owned small businesses with counseling and education, access to capital, and contracting opportunities.  

Ms. Carson brings a unique perspective and first-hand insight to her position. She is currently a Colonel, U.S. Air Force Reserve, with more than 20 years military experience, assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs. Additionally, during a family military assignment to Japan in 2006, Ms. Carson embarked on her first entrepreneurial adventure where she co-developed an outdoor personal training business with another military veteran. 

Jason Young photo Schuylerville native Jason Young is the owner of Clark's Steakhouse, a successful restaurant in Schuylerville, NY. Young started Clark's in 2014 and the restaurant has become a top ranked restaurant in Schuylerville known for their high quality steaks. Young has guided the restaurant's revenues to a million dollars by offering a family friendly atmosphere and quality food at reasonable prices. Young attributes his entrepreneurial success to his experience as a flight medic in the U.S. Air Force. After four years of military service, Young worked as a salesman for Sears and Verizon before launching his business.  


Cosponsorship Agreement # 17-0248-29. SBA's participation in this cosponsored activity in not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs or cosponsored programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact SBA at 315-471-9393.