WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Local software firm PlanGuru got the keys to its new downtown White Plains space Monday under a local initiative to help small businesses grow and create jobs.
The BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network initiative was launched by the Westchester County Association (WCA) two years ago to help revitalize the local economy by harnessing county real estate, business and academic sectors to benefit small businesses. PlanGuru is the first beneficiary.
Companies that partnered up to create this private-sector initiative included Reckson, a division of SL Green Realty Corp. It donated the 1,635-square-foot third-floor retail space at 150 Grand St. where PlanGuru will operate. Under PlanGuru’s five-year lease, the space will be free the first year, half-price the second year and market price years three through five.
The software company, which produces budgeting, forecasting and financial planning software for businesses and non-profits, will also receive pro bono marketing, technology, accounting and legal services from partners in the Accelerator Network. The total investment in PlanGuru will be in the six figures, Marrisa Brett, director of economic development for the WCA, said.
In return, PlanGuru and future Accelerator Network beneficiaries must commit to stay in Westchester.
“We chose White Plains rather than other metro locations as it was a lot more affordable and you could easily catch an express train to the city,” said Christian Wielage, CEO of PlanGuru and a White Plains resident. “But starting a new business can be a daunting process. Now that it’s time to scale the business, the Accelerator will take us to the next level on a much more aggressive route. It’s exactly what we needed.”
Small businesses generate 65 percent of all new jobs in the U.S. and hire 43 percent of high-tech workers, according to the WCA.
“Having partners like the WCA and Reckson, and now PlanGuru, is essential to us,” Mayor Thomas Roach said. “When we do get inquiries from tech companies, they like to know what other tech companies are new in White Plains because they like to have that critical mass. So actually it’s like a snowball, as it starts rolling we can actually accelerate the number of people that come into the city.”
PlanGuru has 1,100 customers in 34 countries, but just six employees, along with two interns from area colleges, said Wielage, who runs the company with his brother Taylor, CFO, and long-time friend Tripp Graham, director of marketing.
The WCA hopes its BLUEPRINT initiative will not only help PlanGuru grow its business and employee base, but attract new businesses to Westchester. The WCA also hopes it will attract and retain young workers in Westchester, another initiative it has worked on.
Businesses may apply to the BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network online.