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Success Stories

When Gail Warner Miller had the idea to convert a portion of her family’s farmland into a vineyard with a tasting room, she wasn’t sure where to start. Miller is a 5th generation descendent of Nathaniel Warner, a shipbuilder and soldier in the War of 1812, who first settled on that same farmland off Lake Ontario in 1838. Adding a winery to her family’s land was another way for Miller to share Chaumont, New York’s history with visitors. She turned to her local Small Business Development Center for help.

At the Watertown SBDC, Miller was counseled by advisor Sarah O’Connell. They began working together in 2012 by developing an organizational plan and a three-year budget. Miller worked hard to bring her dream to life, aided by O’Connell’s financial and operational assistance. In 2016, White Caps Winery, LLC opened their doors to guests for the first time.

“It was such a fun journey to take with Gail,” O’Connell comments. “From 2012 when we were looking at initial costs... Read More

Situation: Jaime Sweet grew up next door to her family’s small machine shop in Oneida, NY. Her grandparents Robert and Adeline Sweet began the company in 1973, and her father Robert Sweet Jr. worked as an apprentice, machinist, and director of operations  before taking the reins in upon their retirement. Robert Sweet Jr. developed the company into a large CNC manufacturer. Jaime worked in many different roles at the family business while in high school and college, although she started out her career as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Jaime returned to Harman Enterprises, Inc. to lead the company after her father’s unexpected passing in 2014.

“You always think you appreciate the responsibility. But you never really understand what it means until you are in that position,” explains Jaime Sweet, Hartman Enterprises president and CEO. “One of the first things I did was to recognize that I needed some guidance. I contacted the Mohawk Valley Small Business Development Center, and... Read More

Situation: When the Steuben County Infirmary where Rebecca Kilsdonk worked as a transportation and maintenance employee for 29-years was sold to a private entity,   she found herself without a job. It was at that moment she knew her experience and heartfelt desire to provide an essential service to the community could be turned into her own business.

Less than a week later, she started CBR Transport LLC from her home in the rural village of Arkport, NY. After purchasing a handicap accessible van, Kilsdonk received 24 phone calls from interested clients the very first day in business. Along the way, she successfully navigated the complicated New York State regulations for medical transportation service companies, and continued to grow her business by adding more vehicles and drivers.

However, the demand for wheelchair medical transportation services continued to outpace CBR Transport’s capacity. Kilsdonk knew it was time to take her business to the next level and... Read More

Situation: Clinton, NY native Stephen Hale started Hale’s Bus Garage, LLC in his hometown in 2013 after several years in the transportation industry. Under his leadership, Hale developed into one of Central New York’s leading transportation companies with a fleet of 25 vehicles and 55 professional drivers and staff. Hale built a strong customer base in the region includes area school districts and many college and universities, particularly with the company’s designation as an approved carrier for NCAA collegiate and professional sports teams. But after continually increasing the number of staff and vehicles, Hale had outgrown their original 5,000-square-foot building and surrounding parking lot. Owner Stephen Hale knew a significant expansion was essential to continue growing his company.

Solution: With the help of an SBA-backed 7(a) loan from Berkshire Bank in April of 2019, Stephen Hale launched a $2 million dollar expansion to the company’s existing Clinton headquarters... Read More

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