By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star
---- — A $200,000 state grant has helped the city of Oneonta boost entrepreneurship through 15 projects that are creating or retaining 19 jobs, Otsego County’s economic developer said.
The City of Oneonta Microenterprise Assistance Program has supported projects that create or retained low- to moderate-income jobs by providing grants to new and existing businesses with five or fewer employees, said Carolyn Lewis, economic developer who last week represented the city in giving a report to state officials, including the governor.
The $200,000 grant was awarded last year through the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council. In the first round of the governor’s 10 regional council initiative, the Mohawk Valley district was awarded $60.2 million in state resources through the Consolidated Funding Application process to support 59 projects.
Currently, 98 percent of the projects are under way, a media release from the governor’s office said last week. At completion, the Mohawk Valley region projects funded through 2011 CFA will create and retain more than 1,800 permanent, non-construction jobs and leverage more than $364 million in additional private sector and other investment, the release said.
The Mohawk Valley council, which includes Otsego and Schoharie counties, has submitted requests for funding this year, and announcements about the next round are expected later this month.
Last Wednesday, Lewis and Liz Rickard of the Career Opportunities in Rural Education Initiative, or CORE program, at Milford Central School, were among officials reporting on projects to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team at Griffiss Institute in Rome. The local school was awarded $125,000 to support CORE, which is establishing a local and virtual network of adult education courses and career advancement opportunities through partnerships.
The governor’s stop in Utica and Rome last week was the seventh visit in a REDC Progress Tour, a media release said.
“Last year, New York state changed the way state government approaches economic development by empowering individual regions to tailor plans that fit their own needs and assets — and it is producing results,” Cuomo said in the release. “We have seen the Mohawk Valley Regional Council turn their plan into real jobs and growth in their local economy.”
In Oneonta’s current project, 34 new and expanding businesses applied to the program and funding requests totaled $891,800, Lewis said. The 15 businesses receiving awards represent $608,000 in total project costs.
Through this funding, 19 full-time equivalent jobs were retained or created, Lewis said, and eight new businesses were started on Main Street.
The grants provided funding for start-up costs, expansion of inventory, advertising and other business expenses, Lewis said. Preference was given to new businesses, existing businesses with a record of sound business practices, Main Street businesses and businesses created by college students, she said.
“There’s this real desire to stimulate and encourage entrepreneurship,’’ Lewis said. “We’re supporting the people who live here.’’
Applicants could request a grant amounts between $5,000 and $35,000, and a minimum 10 percent owner-equity contribution was required. Lewis, who didn’t release the amounts of specific grants, said at least 50 percent of the total grant funds had to be awarded to start up businesses. She said this year’s recipients were:
New business/college student:
NC Fashion Styling Services, owned by Nichole Bainer, at 10 Market St., personal services.
New business/first-floor retail:
Project Anthologies — retail/craft studio.
Brand One Consignment, accessories retailer, a pending project on Elm Street.
Liberty Tree Chocolates — specialized food.
Palace Cigar Café — retail.
Otsego Bicycle — retail/sports equipment.
Denim & Diamonds — personal services.
Hands On Arts Institute/Studio — art studio/instruction.
Expanding existing businesses — first-floor retail:
Silks & Treasures — retail/clothing.
Oneonta Spice Co. — retail/food products.
Shakedown Street — retail/clothing.
Theresa’s Emporium — retail/gifts.
Murphy Homecare — retail/home health.
Roundhouse Restaurant Group – Red Caboose on Main Street operated by Tim Masterjohn.
Expanding existing restaurant:
Rail Benders — restaurant.
Oneonta’s 2010 microenterprise program, which also awarded $200,000, supported nine businesses with total projects costs of $504,000, Lewis said, and 17 full-time equivalent jobs were created, among other assistance for businesses in the city.
Also on Wednesday, the state’s project assessment team heard proposals from applicants in this year’s round, including the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Lewis said.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame Digitization Project would allow users to access the entire Hall of Fame collection online, with images and curatorial comments, a September release from the council said. Other area projects included in review for possible funding in the next round include applications by:
• Foothills Performing Arts Center and Civic Center in Oneonta, to buy acoustic treatments, including a specially designed acoustic shell for the main stage, low-noise carpeting and stage curtains.
• Brewery Ommegang, the Cooperstown-area brewery producer of Belgian-style beer, seeks support for the fourth year of a six-year, $17 million expansion project and construction of a water treatment facility.
• Custom Electronics Inc. in Oneonta, to establish a new business in power distribution and energy storage.