Niagara Gazette

September 23, 2012

Building up local business

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Buffalo and Niagara Falls working together for the betterment of Western New York is the goal of many people. While some dream about it, others are working hard to make it happen. Denise Cotto is one of those people.

Cotto, a D’Youville College alumna and former president of the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Team, was appointed as the new program manager for the Niagara Falls Entrepreneurial Training Program. An accountant by profession, she brings her academic knowledge and professional experience to the Falls, helping city residents become successful entrepreneurs. 

Most people have contemplated the idea of owning their own business at one point or another, of doing what they love and at the same time generating income. The Entrepreneurial Training Program offers its participants the opportunity to explore this option.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to be a part of this great program. I am also very eager for the program to start, as I’m implementing many changes and positive improvements to the program”, said Cotto. Amongst some of the new features of the program, the participants will work alongside with Denise to build a virtual business based on classroom knowledge. “Building this virtual business is going to be fun way to put the pieces of the puzzle together. In addition, this will better prepare the participants for the mini business plan competition to take place at the culmination of the program.”

Beginning in 2013, the program will be split into two separate cohorts, one to take place in the fall and the subsequent session in the spring. The fall session will be geared towards those with limited or no business knowledge. The spring session will consist of more advanced subjects, such as web development, bookkeeping for small businesses, accounting methods, and business plan writing amongst others. This session will be geared towards those who have completed the basic training session or individuals with more advanced business knowledge. 

“My main goal is to ensure that every participant is getting the most out of our program. By offering two separate sessions, the participants will be better able to focus of their actual needs”, stated Cotto. The advanced session will be offered by D’Youville College SIFE in collaboration with the Niagara Falls Department of Economic Development to city residents free of charge.

“Denise is an extremely knowledgeable young lady, full of energy and with a true passion for contributing to the betterment of her community. It is that passion and energy that will make her contribution to this program remarkable”, said Pete Eimer, CEO at Brothers of Mercy, accounting professor at D’Youville College and faculty advisor for the SIFE Program.

Cotto graduated from D’Youville College with a Bachelor’s degree in management and an accounting concentration in 2003. Denise took the oath of office as a Federal civil servant in 2006, when she began her career with the Internal Revenue Service. Ms. Cotto is currently a CPA candidate, expecting to fulfill all requirements within the next year.

Cotto, 32, has been actively involved in community outreach projects since her high school days. As the president of the Lafayette High School Z Club and member of the National Honor Society, she devoted countless hours to helping others. Upon entering D’Youville College, her community involvement continued. Cotto implemented a Financial Literacy Program, which was offered to Cuban refugees in their native Spanish language. She was also responsible for the management of a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site, which offered members of the community free income tax preparation.

The fall session starts Wednesday. The program will consist of 10 weekly sessions, from 6 to 8:30 pm. For additional details or to sign up, please contac Clara Dunn at 286-4481.