Category: Micro Business Incubator Class

MBI Practicum: Spring 2024

Dr. Celia Lofink, Marilyn Risi, Beverly Redd, and Vinette McCaulsky-Walker expressed appreciation on behalf of the University of Hartford, to the small business owners who participated in the Spring 2024 MBI Marketing/Management practicum at the University of Hartford. Thirteen students from the university’s Barney School of Business were paired with 13 businesses located in the Upper Albany neighborhood, on diverse projects that provided experiential learning for the students as they help the business owners in completing their projects. From From left to right, (front row), Hortense Ross, Dr. Celia Lofink, Marilyn Risi, Morris Hardaway, Debra Montague, and Precious Ross-Ellis. (back row) Vinette McCaulsky-Walker, Beverly Redd, Kerron Vernon, Ace Andaleeb, Herman Todd, Gordon Jones, Alburn Montague, and Kiriakos Christoforakis.

Gateway Self-Storage Owners Visit University of Hartford

The owners of Gateway Self-Storage, Morris Hardaway and Gordon Jones, and past student Madison Thibodeau, were the guest speakers at the MBI capstone class this spring. In 2023, the Gateway owners were paired with Thibodeau on an architectural design project while she was a student pursuing an Architectural Design & Technology major concentrating in Construction Management and minoring in Business Entrepreneurial Studies at the university. The renderings of Thibodeau’s final design and floor plan are shown below.

CHEETAH at University of Hartford’s MBI

Dr. Paulette Trowers was the guest speaker at the University of Hartford’s small business practicum class during the spring semester.  Seventeen students were enrolled and are working on diverse projects after being paired on a one-to-one basis with small or micro business owners in the Hartford community. Project areas include technology, research, and architectural design. Dr. Celia Duke Lofink (the class instructor),  the guest speaker, and all the students posed for this photograph at the end of the class.


Madison Thibodeau’s Success Story

“I really enjoy being in a tight-knit community at UHart. I have been able to make great relationships with my professors and learn a lot in my classes, but the friends I have made at UHart are irreplaceable. I really get a feeling of belonging at UHart.” – Madison Thibodeau ‘23, College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture and Barney School of Business

According to the University of Hartford website, Madison Thibodeau ’23 explored engineering and business during her time at the University of Hartford. She majored in Architectural Design + Technology with a concentration in construction management and minored in Business Entrepreneurial Studies. She graduated in May and she is continuing her studies at UHart for an additional year to earn her master’s degree in architecture and pass her architecture registration exams to become a licensed architect. Thibodeau also studied in Thailand this summer through one of UHart’s many study-abroad programs.

Both CETA and Barney provided her with different skill sets. Thibodeau learned a lot about the field she is pursuing from CETA but learned the general business and professional skills at Barney that will prepare her for architecture and beyond. She expanded her connections through her professors and peers in Barney and expanded her perspective on career paths.

“I learned a lot about architecture while in school and had the opportunity to participate in events that reviewed my portfolio and resume for the professional field. Architecture school is project-based, which led me to make many presentations, a skill that I did not have prior to UHart … I was also able to make many connections through school to professionals in the field and connections with my peers who may also practice architecture in the future. Although I am nervous about stepping out into the real world, I am confident in my skills and open to learning opportunities that I believe will help me in my field.”

In CETA, Thibodeau was very involved in the architecture department beyond the classroom. She held a position last semester on the e-board of the American Institute of Architecture Students as graphics chair, making graphics for the club to post around the studio space, posting on social media, and assisting in planning and decorating for various events hosted by the club.

Thibodeau was also on the general board of Women in Architecture and Design, contributing to discussions on current architectural events and women’s advancement initiatives throughout campus and in the architecture department. She also served as a studio representative where she met with professors and the department chair on a monthly basis to share student feedback and facilitate a better studio environment.

In Barney, she studied entrepreneurship, where she learned how to market and advocate for herself, which boosted her confidence in the professional world, and offered a glimpse of what owning a business is like. During her undergraduate studies, Thibodeau worked for a general contractor that focused on residential building and commercial and senior living renovations. She was a project management intern focusing on day-to-day project preparation, various office tasks and maintenance, work orders, inventory, communication with subcontractors, invoices, and job site visits.

Throughout both CETA and Barney, there were several campus faculty who helped her learn and grow. Thibodeau says Associate Professor James Fuller, the architecture program director, department chair, and her advisor, was always there to support her and push her as a student to do better and feel comfortable at school.

Professor Daniel Davis, who was her first studio professor, “taught me more than just architecture. As a freshman, I was very timid and afraid to mess up, and he gave me so many life lessons that I carried with me through my years at UHart,” she added.

Professor Stephen Smith gave her opportunities in the architecture department, such as helping her find her first campus job and scholarship opportunities, and encouraged her in his studio class.

At Barney, Thibodeau took courses with Assistant Professor Aydin Oksoy for two semesters, noting that he was the most enthusiastic professor she has ever had.

Thibodeau also says that Assistant Dean Celia Lofink was a great professor who gave her an eye-opening opportunity in her Small Business Practicum course, where she was paired up with a local storage facility in Hartford to assist with a renovation project. She learned how to communicate with a real business partner while focusing on school and staying on top of her work.

“It was a tough project and a big task, but she supported me in the classroom to learn and get my work done the best I could but also helped me navigate my first real-world design project outside of my architecture classes, which was both intimidating and exciting,” Thibodeau says.

Source Credit: University of Hartford, June 30, 2023.


The Fall 2019 Semester Comes To An End

Upper Albany Main Street expresses its appreciation to the following businesses that participated in the Fall 2019 Micro Business Incubator Program:

  • Mr. Pizza of Hartford
  • KureRx Pharmacy
  • Chrysalis Center
  • B&L Cleaning Services
  • QP Cleaners
  • Save On Mobil
  • TNT Barber & Beauty Salon
  • P&L Electric
  • Recovery On The Green, LLC

If you are interested in participating in the Spring 2021 Micro Busines Incubator Program, please contact Vinette McCaulsky Walker at 860-768-5747 by January 1, 2020.


Students Continue To Work With Their Assigned Businesses (10/7/2019)

Students continue to work with their businesses on a weekly basis.  Last week (September 30, 2019), students presented their step 1 presentations which provide the Professor with an initial assessment of the student-business owner relationships.  Students will work throughout the semester (10 remaining weeks), to accomplish their city-approved goal.  Business owners are encouraged to attend class sessions if they are interested in learning about various business techniques and skills.  Business owners may attend any or all of the following dates:

  • Chrysalis Center 10/7/2019 (speaking about nonprofit agencies within the Hartford community)
  • Small Business Association (SBA) 10/28/2019 (speaking about how Governments help new and growing businesses)
  • Gregory Woodward, President of the University of Hartford 11/18/219 (speaking about how the Micro Business Incubator Program is important to the University and community)
  • Final presentations 12/2/2019 & 12/9/2019 (please plan on attending your students final presentations – more information to follow)

Important Fall 2019 Semester Dates

Upper Albany Main Street welcomes all participating businesses and students to the fall 2019 semester.  Below is a list of upcoming dates:

  • September 4, 2019:  First day of class
  • September 9, 2019:  Business owners meet student (Hartford Police Department introduction)

The semester will end on December 9, 2019.

All students are required to participate 5 hours per week with their assigned business. 


All classes are scheduled at the Handel Performing Arts Center (Community Room) for each Monday, from 10:45 am to 12:05 pm.  All business owners are welcome to attend.

Spring 2019 Micro Business Incubator Kickoff

On Monday, January 28, 2019, eight students from the University of Hartford Barney School of Business officially kicked off the Spring 2019 Micro Business Incubator (MBI) Small Business Practicum semester. Students met with their assigned business owners and discussed assigned projects for this semester. In addition, students enjoyed a presentation from Upper Albany Community Service Officer (CSO), Brian Ufferfilge regarding safety on the avenue.  Upper Albany Main Street wishes all students success with this semester’s projects and goals.

Bravo Supermarket Opens A Hot Bar

In addition to a wide variety of grocery items, fresh fruits and produce, you can now enjoy fresh food on the go! Bravo Supermarket, located at 1291 Albany Avenue, Hartford, CT 06112, has opened a hot bar. This new addition to Bravo is open during store hours and offers a wide variety of breakfast and lunch Carribean cuisine. In addition, Bravo is participating in the Spring 2019 Micro Business Incubator Program. Upper Albany Main Street wishes Bravo Supermarket success in its future endeavors.

Fall 2018 Micro Business Incubator Class Launches

On September 5, 2018, the University of Hartford and Upper Albany Main Street launched its fall 2018 Micro Business Incubator (MBI) semester.  This semester, 15 students from the Barney School of Business will be paired with micro businesses within the Hartford community to assist with business plans, social media, websites, loyalty programs, point-of-sale, inventory barcoding, and more.  The MBI class will meet every Monday from 10:50 am to 12:05 pm at the Handel Performing Arts Center Community Room.

The Micro Business Incubator was developed in 2002 as a joint venture between Upper Albany Main Street, the University of Hartford, and the Metro Hartford Alliance.  Its purpose is to bring training, development, resources, and support to businesses throughout the Upper Albany neighborhood of Hartford.  The program’s philosophy is to “give a man a fish and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”

Businesses that are interested in participating in the Spring 2019 semester should contact the Upper Albany Main Street office at (860) 768-5747.