Economic forum draws business owners

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Left to right: Warren/Washington Industrial Development Agency executive director Michael Ostrander, Washington County Local Development Corporation executive director Deanna Derway, Washington County Economic Development director Laura Oswald, owner of Black Dog Designs Jesse Tyree, Salem Chamber of Commerce president and Fort Salem Theater owner Kyle West, Lake George/Lake Champlain Regional Planning Board director Beth Gilles, SUNY Adirondack assistant professor of business Kim London and Hampton supervisor Dave O’Brien.

More than 50 people attended the highly anticipated “Small Business Toolbox” economic forum aiming to provide information for business owners in and around Washington County that took place on April 29 at The Central House and Fort Salem Theater in Salem.

The event was split into three sessions starting with a networking hour at the Central House. Members of Washington County and regional agencies such as the Warren/Washington Industrial Development Agency, Lake George/Lake Champlain Regional Planning Board, Washington County Department of Economic Development and more were there.

Sights from the networking hour of the ‘Small Business Toolbox’ economic forum held on April 29 at The Central House in Salem.

The second section allowed attendees to visit several vendor tables from SUNY Adirondack, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Salem Chamber of Commerce and more.

The event concluded with a panel discussion hosted by Hampton supervisor Dave O’Brien and moderated by Salem Chamber of Commerce president and Fort Salem Theater owner Kyle West and owner of Black Dog Designs Jesse Tyree.

The panel participants Lake George/Lake Champlain Regional Planning Board director Beth Gilles, SUNY Adirondack assistant professor of business Kim London, Washington County Economic Development director Laura Oswald, Warren/Washington Industrial Development Agency executive director Michael Ostrander and Washington County Local Development Corporation executive director Deanna Derway.

Items discussed were how to qualify and apply for specific programs with the respective agencies, where the county lies in certain fields of generating revenue and what can be improved upon when working with small business owners.

All participants encouraged those with questions to contact them and provided valuable information as to specific actions and offerings their agencies provide.

State Assemblymen Jake Ashby was excited to be in-person for the networking event to see where he can assist local business owners with their respective struggles from his office in Albany.

“Over the last couple years, we’ve seen businesses struggle with Covid-19 and different regulations… It’s important for me to come to Washington County and get a better picture of that,” Ashby said. “I’m listening to their experiences, taking their information and relaying that to my colleagues and Albany and seeing what we can do to help and sustain business in New York State.”

A vast array of active and potential business owners was thrilled to converse with each other about possible opportunities waiting for them.

Todd DeGarmo, of Shushan, has ideas of creating the mixture of an AirBnB, bake shop and gift shop but doesn’t know where he can obtain grants or loans specific to his business.

As someone who works for the Folklife Center in Glens Falls, DeGarmo said he’s familiar with the process of obtaining grants and loans for a non-profit but he wanted more information on opportunities for his potential business.

Thom Allgaier owns the Sweet and Savory Farmette AirBnB in Buskirk with his wife Nikki and came to the forum to see if he could connect with “like-minded establishments” as a way to create business for each other.

Lindsey Liebig, owner of Riverside Farms in Granville, went to the forum to see if there were any available resources that applied to her business and wanted to see if there were any tips or advice she could take to aid in separating business savings from personal savings.

Co-owner of Jacko’s Corner in Salem and certified public accountant (CPA) Tom Clary was curious to see if there would be any connections made to obtaining forgivable grants by proof of being dependable and presenting financials for those looking to start or sustain a new business.

“As a CPA, the thing I value most is ‘how do we get that first $20,000?’” Clary said. “How do you give away money without people giving up their home?… How do you help these entrepreneurs and limit that risk?”

Prior to the panel, State Assemblyman Matt Simpson spoke about his passion for the “entrepreneurial spirit being expanded upon” in his jurisdiction of Washington County.

Also in attendance for the events and conversation were supervisors Sam Hall of Fort Ann, Brian Campbell of Hebron, James Griffith of White Creek and Sue Clary of Salem.

“This is just one of many endeavors going on in Washington County,” Hall said.