SARANAC LAKE, NY — A regional partnership focused on retaining small businesses in northern New York State will convene current business owners and potential buyers for a three-day educational and networking conference. The North Country Center for Businesses in Transition (CBIT) partnership invites aspiring business owners to attend its second Small Communities. Big Opportunities: Own a North Country Business Conference, which will be held in-person with a virtual option on February 12-14, 2023, in Saranac Lake, N.Y. on the heels of the Adirondack village’s ten-day Winter Carnival.
Early bird registration for North Country business conference ends Jan. 20
In-person events will take place at Hotel Saranac, where attendees can connect with current and aspiring business owners, business support professionals, and CBIT representatives. The conference will kick off with an opening reception before the Winter Carnival’s closing fireworks show. Registration for in-person and virtual attendance is open at www.northcountryopportunities.
“The conference is designed to meet the needs of a wide variety of participants in a short amount of time,” said Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) Entrepreneurial Economy Program Director Danielle Delaini. “We’ll cover the whole gamut, from broad topics like what it’s like living in the North Country to practical details like tax considerations, marketing strategies and business valuation.”
Ben Dixon, executive director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and community liaison with CBIT, said the conference offers attendees the chance to learn directly from current owners about what it is like to operate a business in the North Country and connect with a wide range of business ownership opportunities. Participants can meet face-to-face with owners of businesses located throughout the region — including Nature’s Storehouse in Canton, N.Y.; Done Right Cleaning in St. Lawrence County; Lafave Automotive in Vernon, N.Y., and other businesses including restaurants, shops and service providers.
“All of the different business support organizations in CBIT work very closely together so that we can connect the entrepreneur who’s looking to take on a new business with various resources in the North Country,” said Dixon. “We have a well organized and well established entrepreneurial ecosystem here that supports the entrepreneur. Attending the conference will help introduce the entrepreneur to that ecosystem.”
Following a successful virtual conference in 2021, this year’s event offers different tracks for aspiring, beginning and more established entrepreneurs, no matter where they are in the ownership process. From individuals who are just starting to explore the idea of owning a business, to people who have already identified a business they would like to purchase, to owners who have recently taken over a business — attendees will be supported wherever they are in the business ownership process. Participants will have opportunities to meet with retiring owners, learn about available businesses, and learn from experts about key elements of a successful business transition, including marketing, branding, accessing capital and relocating the North Country.
Attendees will also hear from guest speakers who have engaged with the CBIT partnership. Sandy Maine, founder of Adirondack Fragrance & Flavor Farm in Parishville, N.Y., recently passed on her successful body products and candle business to her son and daughter-in-law. Cori Deans of Keene, N.Y. will speak about her experience operating a successful fermented food business, Small Town Cultures, which has rapidly outgrown its Lake Placid facility and will soon be moving to a larger space in Plattsburgh. Max Nason, new owner of Happy Camping RV in Vermontville, N.Y., and David Reichel, who will take over an established small business based in Gouverneur, N.Y. next month, will also present.
Citing that the average business transition takes three to five years to complete, Delaini said it is remarkable that the CBIT partnership — which serves 14 counties in northern New York — supported 37 successful business transitions since ANCA established the Center four years ago. She said the 215 businesses that accessed CBIT services during this period represent over 1,040 full- and part-time jobs retained in the region.
Among them is Adirondack Awards and Promotions, a Lake Placid company that has been providing customized trophies, awards, and engraved and embroidered products for local businesses, organizations and sports teams since 1962. Tyler Merriam and Nick Prechel purchased the business in August 2022 with CBIT’s support.
“For people who are considering attending the conference, I would strongly encourage them to do so,” said Merriam. “Networking and connections are critical in the business world. We have received so much support from local business owners, from previous owners and sellers, and people who have gone through this process before. Building those connections and learning from them has been invaluable.
“And for an entrepreneur who is looking for a place-based business, I would sing the praises of this region hands down,” he added. “The Adirondack region is simply gorgeous. There’s so much that can be done community-wise, recreation-wise. The opportunities are unlimited.”
CBIT encourages attendees to arrive early for the conference, experience Winter Carnival activities, and explore the Saranac Lake area’s many small businesses, restaurants and shops. During the conference, CBIT will announce travel and tour packages for eligible participants who are interested in owning a North Country business and exploring the region’s scenic, cultural and recreational assets.
In November, National Grid awarded ANCA a $100,000 grant to support the conference and other 2023 CBIT programs. Additional funding has been provided by Adirondack Foundation; Community Bank; Franklin County Government Office of Economic Development and Tourism; New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG), an Avangrid Company; and SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center.
CBIT was established by ANCA in 2018 with grant funding from the Northern Regional Border Commission to address the loss of area businesses by providing matchmaking services with potential buyers, access to planning tools, and connection with existing services. CBIT services have expanded to provide support for aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to purchase an existing business. CBIT is comprised of 13 community liaisons and partners across ANCA’s 14-county service area, including representatives from the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation, Adirondack Park Agency Economic Services, Essex County Industrial Development Agency, Franklin County Economic Development Corporation, Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, Hamilton County Economic Development, Lewis County Economic Development, LivingADK, St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center, Ti-Alliance, and Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce.
Registration for the three-day in-person conference, which includes the opening reception and daytime meals, costs $100; participants who sign up by January 20, 2023 receive a discounted early bird rate of $80. The virtual option costs $75 with a $60 early bird rate. Students who attend a North Country college or university are invited to attend free of charge. Questions about student discounts, registration or other event details may be directed to email@example.com. Registration is open at www.northcountryopportunities.
Photo at top: Nick Prechel, left, and Tyler Merriam recently purchased Adirondack Awards and Promotions in Lake Placid with the support of the North Country Center for Businesses in Transition partnership. Photo provided by Audrey Schwartzberg, ANCA Communications Officer.
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