Repetition is the name of the game to turn high schoolers into good entrepreneurs.
All this week, high school students taking part in an entrepreneurship boot camp at the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) in Syracuse have been forced to practice pitching business ideas and cold-calling clients over-and-over.
"The practical piece is really key," says El-Java Abdul-Qadir, and instructor at SSIC.
This is the first year of the boot camp and twenty kids are taking part, but organizers are hoping it will get bigger next summer.
Four years ago, Erick Cleckner was sitting next to his friend, Dave Chenell, in a class at Syracuse University. But they weren't exactly paying attention.
"[We were] just drawing in our notebooks instead of taking notes," remembers Cleckner. "And we were arguing about whose drawing would win a fight."
Their debate about whose character would triumph didn't end when class was dismissed. Cleckner and Chenell started working on a digital battlefield where their sketches could actually engage in battle.
Those for it say it has little resemblance to Destiny USA other than the length of the tax break. But those in opposition disagree strongly.
Months of debate about Syracuse's development strategy and negotiations culminated Monday with the city granting just its second-ever 30-year property tax exemption.
The recipient is a developer who will build a mixed-use off-campus bookstore and fitness center for Syracuse University. The property in question is a long sliver of land currently owned by the nonprofit university, so it's not taxable.
There's an old promotional video the developer behind the Destiny USA megamall released several years ago. It includes images of glass-enclosed golf courses, huge hotels and helicopter tours of upstate taking off from Syracuse's Inner Harbor.
Despite ending by promising "grand opening, summer 2004," you won't see any of that on the shores of Onondaga Lake today.
All you'll see is an even bigger mall - despite developer Robert Congel winning a 30-year property tax break worth about $600 million as an incentive from the city to build the Disney Land-like attraction.
Ariel Norling, 20, is from San Antonio, Texas. She has a lip ring and a spunky attitude to match. She majored in policy studies at Syracuse University.
Oh, and she's the CEO of her own online dating site called YouShouldDate.me. Tagline: "Online dating sucks, but it doesn't have to."
"We're trying to find the middle ground between 'casual whatever,' which generally just means people hooking up, and marriage," says Norling, describing her site.
She says she didn't really expect to become an entrepreneur - hence the social sciences degree. But last fall, after some convincing by a friend, Norling decided to pitch her idea at a local startup weekend.
Investments in research take a while to pay dividends.
So says Dr. Karin Pavese, director of innovation at the New York Academy of Sciences.
At a biotechnology symposium in Syracuse Tuesday, Pavese told attendees there's great growth potential in state-backed research. But since the fruits of those investments often take many years to bloom, Pavese says politicians are often hesitant to pony up key funding.
One job created in the innovation work force - like a research position - creates three additional jobs, according to Pavese.
But standing in the way is something called the "valley of death."
New York's senators say they have three new pieces of legislation that will reduce unemployment among recent veterans.
At a joint press conference Monday outside Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) unveiled the three bills, which Gillibrand says have bipartisan support.
Onondaga Community College's reluctance to turn over financial information to county lawmakers regarding the new SRC Arena is creating some friction. It has become part of budget discussions between Onondaga County and the community college.
The education and healthcare sectors - or "eds and meds" - provide potential for upstate New York's economy - as long as the region can translate research activity into job creation.
That was the message from William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Dudley was in Syracuse Thursday for a series of speeches. He also sat down with the Innovation Trail.
"The educational establishment is world-class," Dudley said. "And the amount of innovation that those institutions are driving is substantial. But not much of that innovation actually leads to jobs in the region."
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-Onondaga Hill) wants the federal government to take a more hands-off approach when it comes to energy costs.
The congresswoman hosted about two-dozen central New York business leaders Tuesday morning at Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub in Syracuse.
Buerkle's main contention: The federal government should stop playing venture capitalist for startup energy companies. Deregulation is the best way to help small companies innovate and grow, Buerkle said.
"That's very different than saying, 'Here's money from the government. We're going to prop you up,' " said Buerkle. "That never works ... You've got to let the free market work."
The plan was released Wednesday during CenterState's annual meeting. Along with Brookings, representatives from the US Export-Import Bank and the Commerce Department touted the potential of the region.
But central New York has a ways to go: Of the top 100 largest metro areas, Brookings found Syracuse ranked 72nd for export value in 2010.
But Tuesday’s event had a few more suits-and-ties as several state and local politicians and economic development officials were present.
“[Ephesus] I think has earned the distinction of tapping more assets across the state than any company I know of,” said Ed Bogucz, executive director of the Syracuse Center of Excellence, as he introduced the company.
Brian Page and Benjamin Onyejuruwa stood in front of the panel of judges with their hands full of groceries in an attempt to show how much easier their invention - an electronic ID and key programmed into a bracelet - could be.
The duo are roommates and freshman at Clarkson University. They made the trip down to Syracuse University on Friday to pitch QuickWhrist for a chance to win seed money from the university's Emerging Talk program.
Even as a freshman, Onyejuruwa already holds a patent for the technology.