Middleville, N.Y. - The Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce held its 41st annual Membership Meeting Luncheon Thursday at the Crystal Chandelier Restaurant on Route 28.
Executive Director John Scarano started off the meeting by congratulating the nearly 500-member-strong Chamber on its continued success despite the hardships that the current economic conditions have inflicted on small businesses around the country. He stated, “Herkimer County is a place where businesses can grow in a caring, compassionate environment, in a county where dreams can come true.”
During the luncheon meeting, the Chamber recognized three new board members elected this year. Serving three year terms are Melodie Greiner, of First Source Credit Union, and Ilion Mayor Mark Cushman, of Fermer Precision in Cedarville. Elected to a two-year term was Herkimer County Community College President Dr. Ann Marie Murray.
Following the adjournment of the meeting, awards were given out in three categories for business of the year. In the “Non-Profit Business of the Year,” Herkimer Area Resource Center received the top honor, with Executive Director Kevin Crossley accepting the award on behalf of the company. “Business of the Year” went to Remington Arms Company, Inc. Founded in 1816, Remington Arms is the oldest manufacturer in the United States that has produced the same product since its inception. In a written statement, Brigadier General Mark Brown apologized for being unable to attend the ceremony, but congratulated Remington Arms and thanked the company on behalf of the United States Military for its dedication to producing “the finest fire arms in the world, including the M-24 sniper rifle.” In the past year, Remington Arms has grown and continues to thrive, recently hiring 100 new employees.
The Chamber also honored Ann Blask, of A.M. Realty, naming her “Business Person of the Year.” Since starting her own real estate company in 1992, she has continued to thrive and grow, now employing four other agents. She was commended for her dedication, her enthusiasm, and her determination to achieve her dreams. “This started as a hobby, and turned into a career,” said Blask, “And the aspect that I love the most is being able to introduce new people to Herkimer County and all of its beauty.”
State Senator James Seward was on hand to speak to members of the Chamber and encouraged them to hold fast in this time of economic turmoil. He remarked that things are going to get worse before they get better, in light of the recently passed state budget. “I did not support the budget this year,” said Seward, “I have never seen a more secretive and less transparent budget process. The budget was developed behind closed doors, allowing no opportunity for debate or discussion. A bad process led to a bad result.” He stressed to small business owners the importance of weathering the economic storm, reminding them that they are the key to New York state recovering from its financial woes.
Assemblyman Marc Butler, also in attendance, announced that the Emergency Loan Program for small business will soon be coming to Herkimer County. He has secured funding for the program to the tune of $50,000 from the state budget, which he called “seed money,” and stated that he expects the loan program to grow much larger over the next few years. “We have talked with Herkimer County officials for a few years now about implementing this program. Considering the current economy, we felt that it was imperative to get it running this year,” Butler said, “Senator James Seward has also expressed an interest in the program and if it proves to be a success, we hope to be able to add additional funding in the coming years and perhaps expanding the eligibility parameters.”
Details of the program continue to be hammered out, but Butler said he “envisions the low-interest loans will be made available to Herkimer County businesses of less than 20 employees to meet current emergency obligations.” Loan funds are expected to be designated mainly for capital projects, equipment purchases or other immediate expenses. Because of the relatively small amount of the initial funding, low-interest loan amounts are expected to be capped somewhere in the region of $5,000. The Herkimer County Industrial Development Authority will be administering the program. Butler said the fund is expected to be in place and ready to accept applications by mid- to late summer. Business owners will be notified through the Chamber and the media as details are discussed and decided on.
Published in the Evening Telegram - 05/01/09