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Laine Business Accelerator to award thousands to five county businesses

Jul 08, 2021 |

Five businesses in Cattaraugus County will have the opportunity to share $35,000 in funding to help jump-start their operations.

The Laine Business Accelerator is a three-month program designed to attract and quickly grow local businesses. Business owners can learn more and apply for the program through July 30 at

The five businesses selected will receive funding, mentorship from top entrepreneurs, coaching, and workshops specifically designed to boost their businesses.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our community. We’re going to put everything into growing and supporting these businesses,” said Tom Cullen, director of St. Bonaventure University’s Innovation Center.

The program will run from September through December 2021 and feature mentorship meetings once a week along with entrepreneurs sharing their tips to a build a successful business, Cullen said.

“SUNY JCC is excited to work with St. Bonaventure and our other community partners in Cattaraugus County on this new venture made possible by the bequest from the Laine family,” said Daniel DeMarte, JCC president. “This initiative and its development provides us the opportunity to collaborate in new and exciting ways.”

Each winner will receive $1,000 on being accepted and the program will finish with a Community Showcase day when one team will be awarded $10,000; the remaining four will each receive $5,000.

The accelerator is a collaboration between St. Bonaventure University, SUNY Jamestown Community College, SBU’s Innovation Center, Olean Business Development Corp. and Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation. More than a dozen businesses, organizations and educational institutions have already committed to partnering with the program to help advance Cattaraugus County’s economy.

“The accelerator program gives local entrepreneurs a tremendous opportunity to boost their businesses,” said Jim Stitt Sr., executive chairman of Olean’s CUTCO Corp.

The program is funded by the Erick Laine Entrepreneurship Fund at Olean Business Development.

As president, CEO and chairman of Alcas (which became CUTCO in 2009), Laine oversaw the transformation of the “little knife factory” into the largest cutlery company in North America, expanding sales, work force, and the company’s global presence. He passed away in 2020.

A man of remarkable generosity, Laine was a transformative figure in the region for 40 years, serving on the boards at Olean General Hospital, St. Bonaventure University, Alfred University and the Cattaraugus Economic Development Zone. Erick and his wife, Marianne, chaired the fundraising for the downtown JCC campus.

The Olean Area Chamber of Commerce honored him with the first L.O.U.I.E. award for the person who best embodies the enterprising spirit for the greater Olean community.

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