Wednesday, December 27, 2023

ANCA Center for Pandemic Response Supports Over 300 Businesses & Nonprofits

Owner of The Mustard Seed

As two-year business resilience program wraps up, ANCA looks forward

Saranac Lake, NY — When the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) launched its Center for Pandemic Response (ANCA CPR) in 2021, small businesses across the region faced unprecedented challenges recovering from the economic crisis delivered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the following two years, the innovative business resilience program would tap into ANCA’s regional networks and knowledge of the North Country business community to serve the urgent and long-term needs of over 300 local entrepreneurs and nonprofits.

Last month, the regional economic development nonprofit closed out its federal grant for the project, which ultimately connected 327 North Country businesses and organizations with services to help them build stability to better withstand crises like the economic shutdown of 2020. In its final report to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Mastercard, the ANCA CPR team shared impacts and success stories from businesses and organizations that enrolled in the program. ANCA is now leveraging case studies, project data and client feedback to develop additional programming that meets the expressed needs of the region’s business community.
“We are thrilled to have had this opportunity to directly support so many local businesses and organizations,” said ANCA Entrepreneurial Economy Program Director Danielle Delaini. “This work would not have been possible without the EDA and Mastercard, who have demonstrated their commitment to our region’s small businesses through their unique partnership of private and public funding support. Together, we have learned so much about the real needs of our business community and how to effectively address them with customized services. We look forward to continued collaboration with these and other partners to build on this important work.”
Delaini said the pandemic underscored the vulnerability of the region’s small businesses in the face of unexpected challenges. As they worked to provide small business support throughout the crisis, she said, ANCA saw an opportunity to build on the services and networks ANCA had already developed through its Center for Businesses in Transition (CBIT), clean energy program, local food system program, Adirondack Diversity Initiative, and other small business initiatives. Project partners who provided technical expertise for ANCA CPR clients include the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation, CITEC Business Solutions and the Cooperative Development Institute, as well as several local contractors who completed energy-efficiency upgrades.
“ANCA is fortunate to have so many well-connected and passionate staff, partners and stakeholders who share a deep commitment to our region’s small businesses,” said ANCA Executive Director Elizabeth Cooper. “ANCA CPR was able to identify specific needs of individual businesses and utilize our team’s diverse expertise to support them in tangible and empowering ways. We are so grateful for each staff member and service provider who supported ANCA CPR’s work over the last two years.”
When Norman Jabaut and Jason Andrew purchased the Ausable Theater in Au Sable Forks, N.Y. in 2020 with the goal of transforming it into a vibrant community space, they knew the historic building would need significant infrastructure improvements. They were eager to replace the theater’s 1930s oil furnace with a modern heating and cooling system, but understood that controlling the climate in such a large, drafty space would be highly inefficient without first improving the theater’s insulation. With funding support from ANCA CPR and technical support from ANCA’s Clean Energy Program staff, they installed spray foam insulation throughout the building — an upgrade that will lower their energy costs, increase comfort for staff and patrons, and set them up for other energy-saving projects.
Two men stand in the Ausable Theater

Norman Jabaut and Jason Andrew on stage in the historic Ausable Theater in Au Sable Forks, N.Y., where they have installed spray foam insulation with the support of the ANCA CPR program. Photo provided by ANCA.

“We’re glad to be moving closer to making our dream for this place become a reality,” said Jabaut. “Reviving this building is a big project, but every improvement brings us closer to our goals. We’re grateful for ANCA’s technical support and their enthusiasm for our business plans. We look forward to working with them on other projects in the future.”
Juli Webster, owner of The Mustard Seed, took time during the pandemic to reimagine and rebrand her herbal products business and eventually open a new shop in Little Falls, N.Y. She approached ANCA in 2021 seeking funding support and marketing expertise to help her improve her customers’ shopping experience and increase website viewership. With assistance from ANCA CPR and the North Country Chamber of Commerce, Webster hired a photographer to develop updated content for her company’s website, social media and other digital marketing platforms — allowing her to share the new brand with a broader audience and giving her knowledge to create engaging content on her own. Webster also gained valuable marketing skills through ANCA CPR programs, including a free eight-week digital marketing workshop presented by the Chamber.
“My experience with the ANCA CPR program was life changing,” said Webster. “Learning various marketing and planning tools in a world where I had closed a brick and mortar and was navigating a new world made me really think outside the box. The funds from ANCA CPR were an unbelievable boost as I tried to get a new brick and mortar shop going. Now, two years in, I am still reaping the benefits that the program provided. In a micro business like mine, what seems like such a small offering overall makes huge impacts.”
ANCA was awarded a $1 million EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant in May 2021 to implement the ANCA CPR program and connect businesses with technical services that would help them diversify income streams and decrease overhead costs. The Mastercard Impact Fund, administered by The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, provided $250,000 to support the project.
“In the midst of the pandemic crisis, ANCA had the agility to respond rapidly to the immediate needs of local businesses. Their outstanding programming embodied the vision of our CARES Act funding, and their dedication ensured that these essential resources reached our hardworking American business owners during a truly challenging time,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “This funding has not only allowed our valued local businesses to survive the pandemic, it has also empowered them to succeed far into the future. I am grateful to ANCA and to our rich and varied local business landscape across the North Country for the high quality of life they promote for residents and visitors alike.”
“The Economic Development Administration is proud to support the revitalization of the Adirondack North Country,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “Through EDA funding, more than 2,600 critical, in-demand jobs were retained, supporting more than 300 local businesses. These impact numbers far exceed original expectations, thanks to a strong, collaborative partnership between EDA and ANCA.”
In its final report, ANCA emphasizes that staff will continue to collaborate with regional partners to provide programming that helps small businesses build stability and resilience. Programs aimed at improving operational efficiency will support energy efficiency and infrastructure upgrades; streamlined systems for the aggregation and distribution of local food; agroforestry projects to help farms diversify and mitigate negative impacts of climate change; and increased education and adoption of cooperative ownership models in business and housing that promote economic equity.
To help businesses strategize for revenue diversification, ANCA will work with partners to develop lending opportunities that address the challenges low- to moderate-income individuals face when seeking capital for business projects; improve understanding of and access to grants and financing opportunities; provide digital skills-building and e-commerce support; build financial skills that support entrepreneurial growth; and offer a business welcoming and belonging microcredential — a new certification provided by the Adirondack Diversity Initiative in partnership with North Country Community College that is expected to launch in 2024.
“ANCA will build on our experience with ANCA CPR to continue to support local entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders in ways that benefit individual enterprises and the broader communities they serve,” said Cooper. “We look forward to working closely with both public and private partners to increase the impact of this crucial work.”
ANCA is an independent, nonprofit corporation with a transformational approach to building prosperity across northern New York. Using innovative strategies for food systems, clean energy, small businesses, and equity and inclusion, ANCA delivers targeted interventions that create and sustain wealth and value in local communities.
Photo at top: The Mustard Seed owner Juli Webster in her new shop in Little Falls, N.Y. Photo provided by ANCA.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com.




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