Monday, February 5, 2024

ANCA to host virtual events aimed at businesses in transition, Feb. 6, March 1

People take part in ribbon cutting ceremony

Saranac Lake, NY —  In 2018, Saint Regis Canoe Outfitters owners Dave and Rivka Cilley reached out to the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) and the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce (SLACC) about a new program designed to help North Country small businesses transition to the next generation of owners. Over the course of five years, ANCA’s Center of Businesses in Transition (CBIT), would help connect the Cilleys with the right buyer, as well as a team of local providers and technical services to support them through the transition process.

With the goal of assisting more businesses like the Canoe Outfitters, which was purchased by employees Maeghan Farnham and Steve Cerri in July 2023, the CBIT partnership has announced upcoming networking and learning opportunities that aim to connect retiring business owners and prospective buyers with customized business transition support.
“Saint Regis Canoe Outfitters’ story demonstrates the kind of time and preparation it can take to transfer an existing business to new owners,” said ANCA Executive Director Elizabeth Cooper. She said it is not uncommon to take three or more years to find a buyer, prepare financials, and transfer other management aspects of a business. “This is why the CBIT team is so eager to help small businesses work through the process. It can be time-consuming and complex, but it’s also critical for keeping our small businesses operating in our communities.”
North Country business owners who are ready to sell now or in the next several years, as well as entrepreneurs who are interested in purchasing an existing business, are invited to participate in CBIT’s programs. 2024 programming includes matchmaking events, educational workshops and opportunities to meet with any of the 20 CBIT community liaisons and partners who represent 16 organizations across ANCA’s 14-county service area.
The partnership confirmed its 2024 team at its annual retreat on January 26. Returning liaison and partner organizations include Franklin County Economic Development Corporation, Hamilton County Economic Development, Lewis County Economic Development/Naturally Lewis, LivingADK, St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, Adirondack Economic Development Corp., Adirondack Park Agency Economic Services, Essex County Industrial Development Agency, SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Ti-Alliance.
Members of a planning retreat

Center for Businesses in Transition Community Liaisons and Partners gathered in Lake Placid, NY for a planning retreat on January 26, 2024. Photo provided.

With the goal of expanding CBIT services to more North Country communities, CBIT welcomed two new liaisons who are based in New York’s Mohawk Valley: Denise Cavanaugh of the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce and Heather Devitt of Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, Inc. (MVEDD). The inclusion of these two organizations is supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties. The program’s reach has also been expanded with the addition of Robert Griffin of the Onondaga SBDC at Onondaga Community College to the partnership.

“This is a big step for CBIT to reach an additional six counties located on the fringe or border of the Adirondack Park,” said Dan Kiefer-Bach, Director of Community Engagement at LivingADK, a nonprofit that serves communities in the Western Central Adirondack region.
Kiefer-Bach has been a CBIT community liaison since 2023.
“We are excited to see this program enter new territory and look forward to strengthening our partnerships as the program continues to grow,” he said.
Scheduled upcoming virtual events include a webinar titled “Role of a Real Estate Professional in a Business Transition” on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 9:00-10:00 a.m. and an online “Matchmaking Event for Buyers and Sellers” on Friday, March 1 at 3:30-5:30 p.m. Both events are supported by funding from Community Bank.
The CBIT partnership is focused on four main goals for the new year: expanding opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to visit the region through its Familiarization Tour Program; enhancing the experience of aspiring entrepreneurs who engage with the Center; measuring the program’s economic impact on local communities and the broader North Country region; and preparing for the 2025 Small Communities. Big Opportunities Conference, a two-day gathering that focuses on matchmaking, networking and sharing business transition information and resources.
Since 2019, CBIT has supported over 250 owners preparing for retirement or other life changes and engaged over 120 individuals interested in owning a business in the region. The partnership supported successful ownership transitions at 63 North Country businesses, which retain local jobs as well as key products and services that enhance quality of life in their rural communities. Business transition success stories are shared in CBIT’s Five-Year Case Study, which can be viewed on the Center’s website.
“Even the smallest of these businesses have a big impact on the overall economic health of our region,” said ANCA Entrepreneurial Economy Program Director Danielle Delaini. “Each shop, each restaurant, each service provider — they serve local needs and bring diversity and vibrancy to their communities. Our 2024 team is extremely knowledgeable about their local areas and passionate about CBIT’s mission. We are all eager to support more North Country businesses with the connections and resources they need to successfully move on to the next generation.”
In addition to St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake, other business transitions that were recently supported by CBIT include My Hope Flower Farm in Ticonderoga, N.Y., Nature’s Storehouse in Canton, N.Y., Crave Diner and Vanilla Bean Bake Shop (formerly Gary’s Restaurant) in Lowville, N.Y., and Adirondack Awards & Promotions in Lake Placid, N.Y.
CBIT launched in 2018 with grant funding from the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) and has since been supported by funding from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Community Development Initiative, National Grid’s Project C, Franklin County Government Office of Economic Development, Adirondack Foundation and local business sponsors.
For more information about CBIT and its programs, visit www.adirondack.org/center-for-businesses-in-transition or contact transitions@adirondack.org.
Photo at top: St. Regis Canoe Outfitters and Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting event on December 7, 2023 to celebrate the successful ownership transition from Dave and Rivka Cilley to Maeghan Farnham and Steve Cerri earlier that year. Photo provided.

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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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