Selected among applicants from across the state, Devin Cooper-Vastola ’18 and Harrison DeMaira ’19 are serving as communications interns for Locate FLX, an entrepreneurial initiative dedicated to strengthening economic development throughout the Finger Lakes. The program is operated by the Stardust Entrepreneurial Center in Auburn, N.Y., under the leadership of former state Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio L.H.D.’07.
The initiative is working to cultivate regional job development for all business sectors, not just the tourism industry, where growth has been driven by the region’s reputation for great wine and food.
“Our main objective as a team is to promote what makes the Finger Lakes unique to incentivize businesses to break ground,” explains DeMaira, a media and society major. “New York State’s ongoing investments in the region, as well as the Finger Lakes’ low cost of development, creates huge potential.”
As interns, DeMaira and Cooper-Vastola write articles For the Locate Finger Lakes website and business journal about local business owners and share stories of entrepreneurial spirit aimed to further the economic renaissance of the Finger Lakes. The students also contribute to strategic development planning under the direction of Nozzolio.
“With a strong sense of community and a unique set of resources, the region is a thriving incubator for small business,” says Cooper-Vastola, who is also a media and society major. “I plan on working in the field of advertising and marketing and this internship is helping me to learn how to interact with businesses and carry out large scale negotiations.”
On campus, DeMaira won second place in the HWS Hackathon, a social entrepreneurship competition, and is a semifinalist in the 2018 Stu Lieblein ’90 Pitch Contest for his venture DeMaira Social Media Advertising. He also volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva, the Geneva Community Lunch Program, Rural & Migrant Ministry, as well as organizations near his hometown in Basking Ridge, N.J.
Cooper-Vastola also held an internship with First Reaction Inc., a Manhattan marketing and advertising firm. On campus, he has tutored for America Reads, plays club lacrosse and is an HWS Hillel board member.
“Both Harrison DeMaira and Devin Cooper-Vastola have been valued members of our team,” says Nozzolio. “They have been involved in all aspects of the Locate Finger Lakes Initiative, including website development, rebranding efforts and the production of articles and videos profiling business innovators in the Finger Lakes region.”
While in the Senate, Nozzolio worked closely with the Colleges and was instrumental in establishing the Finger Lakes Institute at HWS. In 2007, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.