First cohort of ErieMade Business Academy graduates


ErieMade Business Academy graduates gathered at the Erie Center for Arts and Technology on August 15.

The ErieMade Business Academy has officially graduated its first cohort – 15 local businesses with artists, artisans, designers, micro-manufacturers and other creatives at their helm – and is optimistic about welcoming a second in a close future.

The free six-month entrepreneurial mentorship program was funded by Bridgeway Capital’s Creative Business Accelerator (CBA) and hosted by the Erie Center for Arts and Technology (ECAT), which nominated local business owner Kristen Santiago (Gone Local, Ivy + Atlas) to lead orientation and instruction. Santiago is the 2021 winner of Erie’s 40 Under 40 and has advised three of this year’s winners – Doug Baker of North Edge Craft Coffee and Sarah MK Moody and Rick Bowser of The 10/20 Collective.

“Working for this program appealed to me because it’s an opportunity I would have wanted when I first became an entrepreneur,” Santiago said. “Everyone in this program has found business support, accountability and connection with other like-minded creatives. We are excited to see the progress they will make as they continue to grow their business. There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur in Erie.”

The cohort members both met with Santiago individually and came together for monthly teaching sessions, both in person and virtually. During their time at ErieMade, they developed business plans, applied for grants, launched websites, obtained loan approvals, made financial projections and built professional relationships. The program has been tailored to each participant’s strengths and weaknesses based on the ABC’s specially designed assessment, the Creative Business Ladder.

If all goes according to plan, more cohorts will climb that ladder in the years to come. Katie Johnson, Director of ABC at Bridgeway Capital, is encouraged: “We are thrilled for the emerging and established entrepreneurs, business owners and creators who have graduated from the first cohort of the ErieMade Business Academy. We believe this program has provided every business builder with a roadmap to success, and we look forward to supporting these businesses now and in the future with the capital and resources they need to make an impact in the Erie community. »

For more information on the ErieMade Business Academy and Creative Business Accelerator, read our April issue article on Industry, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I2E) or visit


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