Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP)

Program Purpose
The Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP) establishes Entrepreneurial Assistance Centers in local communities to provide instruction, training, technical assistance and support services to individuals who have recently started their own business or are interested in starting a business.  The program's EAP Centers are strategically located throughout New York State. 


Program Highlights
Since its inception, the EAP initiative has helped entrepreneurs create new businesses and has provided in-depth assistance to minorities, women and dislocated workers interested in starting a business. The centers assist new and aspiring entrepreneurs in developing basic business management skills, refining business concepts, devising early-stage marketing plans and preparation of action plans.  In addition, the program actively assists EAP client efforts to obtain business financing. 
The Omnibus Economic Development Law of 1987 authorized Empire State Development (ESD), through the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program, to issue contracts to not-for-profit corporations, community colleges and boards of cooperative educational services for the development of Entrepreneurial Assistance Centers to provide comprehensive assistance in enterprise development to owners and prospective owners of small businesses.
A typical EAP center provides the following in-depth services to owners and operators of start-up businesses:

  • Counseling on the feasibility of starting a business
  • Assistance in refining a business concept and developing a business plan
  • Education in established management principals and practices
  • In-depth business counseling in product development and marketing
  • Guidance in exporting, contract procurement and licensing
  • One-on-one counseling in identifying and accessing capital and credit
  • Access to business support networks
  • Ongoing and continued technical assistance to program graduates including linkages to other small business services


EAP centers have the following effects on the community in which they are located:

  • increase in business ownership among minority group members and women;
  • minority and women-owned start-ups making the transition into small-growth companies;
  • increased access to financing by minority and women-owned firms;
  • significantly expanded sales among minority and women-owned firms; and
  • creation of private sector jobs.


An EAP center must provide the following program services:

  • Enterprise Formation Assistance: One 60-hour entrepreneurship course supplemented by a minimum of 15 hours of intensive technical assistance to help new entrepreneurs complete business plans and to help them develop a viable business.  Technical assistance should encompass refinement of business concept, break-even analysis and financial management, and marketing plans and market development.
  • Enterprise Expansion Assistance: Centers shall maintain ongoing relationships with clients who have taken the entrepreneurship course in order to assist those new businesses to become small-growth companies.  Enterprise expansion technical assistance shall include the following:
        Working capital and cash flow management
        General management skills
        New market development
        Hiring and managing employees
        Managing growth
        Accessing credit and capital


The following types of organizations are eligible to apply:

  1. a not-for-profit corporation, operated by a board of directors representing community leaders in business, education, finance and government;
  2. a community college; or
  3. a Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).

In addition, the applicant organization must be located in an area accessible to minority group members, women and other target populations.


Application Process
Contracts for the creation or continued operation of an Entrepreneurial Assistance Center are awarded on a competitive basis for a 12-month period and awardees are required to provide a minimum of 1:1 matching funds either in cash or through in-kind contributions. Request for Proposals (RFPs) are issued and teams are assembled to review the applications based on the guidelines outlined in the RFP, as well as the applicants' experience, capacity, staffing, past performance in other programs like EAP, as well as the organization' s ability to provide financing assistance to small business owners. 
Once awarded, the centers are evaluated annually based on specific performance objectives regarding business creation and expansion, increased sales, job creation and business financing.  A center' s eligibility for reimbursement of expenses and continued funding are contingent on the center achieving quarterly and annual performance objectives, along with other contractual obligations.


Contact Information
For more information, please contact the Program Administrator at (212) 803-3234.


Additional Resources

EAP Success Stories

NYS EAP Annual Report 2013-2014

NYS EAP Annual Report 2011-2012