By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted on November 17, 2022 at 7:10 pm
HAMLIN – The Orleans Economic Development Agency graduated 10 budding entrepreneurs from its fall class Tuesday night at Gallo’s Bar and Grill in Hamlin.
Gallo’s co-owner, Michelle Gallo, graduated from the Micro-Business Assistance Program several years ago and has become an instructor for the class. Her MAP knowledge helped her and her husband run two successful businesses: the Bar & Grill in Hamlin and Gallo’s Performance Auto Parts & Truck in Brockport.
MAP Administrator Diane Blanchard introduced Tuesday’s graduates and their proposed businesses. They are Brandi DiMatteo of Albion, event planning and party rental; Middleport’s Tracie Fleischhut, vintage gift and retail store; Jordan Gawne of Medina, bakery; Mandee Heinsler of Waterport, dance boutique; Gabrielle Joyner of Albion, Holistic Wellness Center; Christina Nenni of Medina, party rentals; Charlie Ricci of Medina, heavy equipment and golf cart rental; Dan Rosentreter of Medina, Coffee Pot Cafe; Diego Russell de Medina, lawn care; and Jennifer Walker from Albion, party bus.
Also attending the graduation were Sam Campanella from the Small Business Administration; John Fitzak, county legislator and Economic Development Agency board member; Craig Tuohey and Skip Draper, EDA board members; Dorothy Daniels, instructor; and guest speaker Dan Conrad, MAP graduate and owner of Toyz n Kandy in Albion.
Graduates gave short speeches, outlining their goals and proposed businesses.
Charlie Ricci was inspired by his late grandfather, who was a contractor, and his father Dan Ricci, a golf course owner. They provided the role models for starting a golf cart and heavy equipment rental business.
“MAP helped me with all aspects of starting a new business,” Ricci said. “From the banks that visited our class, I learned about loan options. Attorney Brett Dawson drafted my contract for the rental business.”
Ricci, who currently runs a business hauling rock, sand and topsoil dump trucks, said he will rent heavy equipment and golf carts because there is nothing like it in the area.
Brandi DiMatteo, whose business Yolo plans events and has party rentals, said it’s attention to detail that will set her business apart.
“I combine old-fashioned value, going the extra mile, and using cutting-edge ideas to plan my clients’ next special event,” he said. “Being in business has always been my dream.”
She will offer reasonable prices, and clients can choose from complete packages or custom options. Rentals will include everything from tables and chairs to decorations.
Dan Rosentreter opened Coffee Pot Café on East Center Street in Medina on August 1. He sells coffee, tea, lemonade, bagels and pastries and is in the process of creating a full bakery in the store.
Like other graduates, MAP helped him with a business plan and made him eligible to apply for grants.
Jennifer Walker hopes to purchase a party bus and offer a unique and fun way to attend special events. Her party bus would be an entertainment limo on the way to wineries, business meetings, weddings, or other events. She would allow herself alcohol if it was provided by the passengers.
Christina Nenni and Michelle Wiseman started Party Tyme Rentals about three years ago, during the height of Covid. They brought party supplies to families to use in the safety of their own homes. In March 2021 they moved into the Arnold Gregory Complex in Albion. What Nenni learned in the MAP class has guided them to establish a business that is not only successful, but also very supportive of their community. They rent photo booths, popcorn machines, bouncy houses, and party decorations.
Tracie Fleischhut used the support she got from MAP to open the Rustic Ridge Country Store on Ridge Road. It is a retail store with vintage gifts and vendors. Their goal is to accommodate 25 vendors. She hopes to seek grants through MAP.
Jordan Gawne’s background is in specialty cakes and he hopes to open a bakery in Medina. One thing MAP encourages is networking with other classmates, and Gawne, Nenni, and Brandi DiMatteo have all shared ideas and plans for working together.
Mandee Heinsler of Lyndonville sells dancewear and supports the arts at her business, Barre Boutique, in Albion at the Gotta Dance by Miss Amy studio.
Diego Russell has started Hometown Lawn Care in Medina, and will mow the lawn, rake the leaves and clean up the yard.
Gabrielle Joyner also graduated from the class, but was unable to attend the graduation. She hopes to start a Holistic Wellness Center.
The evening’s guest speaker was MAP graduate Dan Conrad, who shared how he took the class to start a new business when a hand injury prevented him from doing his construction work. His business, Toyz N Kandy, occupies 1,200 square feet of space on Albion’s main street.
“MAP is a great resource,” Conrad said. “I never hesitated to pick up the phone and call Diane for advice.”
He stressed the importance of getting out and working together with other business owners. She said that she walked through the center connecting with the other business owners. He is currently waiting for a grant from the EDA, with which he plans to open a second location in Brockport.
“Never lose your dream,” he told the graduates. “Be creative and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.”
The evening concluded with a cake provided by Cassandra Brady, a MAP graduate who operates an Iced and Glazed bakery.
The Microenterprise Care Program began in 1999 and since then 567 people have gone through it. MAP offers two classes each year, one in the spring and one in the fall.