Saranac Lake, N.Y. — As they look forward to spending more time with their grandkids, reviving old hobbies or traveling to warmer climates, many business owners know they need to make a business succession plan before they retire. They often feel daunted by valuing their business and finding a qualified new owner. To help retiring business owners overcome these challenges, the North Country Center for Businesses in Transition (CBIT), now in its second year, will again offer targeted programs and resources to transitioning businesses in 2020.
Following its annual gathering of lead partners and representatives at the Porcupine Inn in Saranac Lake on January 17, 2020, CBIT announced an updated slate of community liaisons, topics for its 2020 workshop series and other ways the group will expand its programming to meet the needs of North Country business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
“The Center for Businesses in Transition is making great strides in expanding economic opportunity across our region through its developed network of professional resources and services, connecting businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Adirondack Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) Executive Director Victoria Duley, whose organization joins the Center this year as a lead partner. “The AEDC is happy to be part of this excellent team!”
The Center is a unique collaboration of regional organizations and leaders whose shared goal is to support existing business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in developing successful business transition strategies. In 2019, 88 North Country business owners reached out to CBIT for assistance, tapping into a network of useful tools, learning opportunities and knowledgeable professionals.
According to Danielle Delaini, business transition program coordinator at the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA), over 98 organizations and community leaders throughout the 14-county North Country region actively support the partnership. In 2020, ten designated community liaisons will play a crucial role to help navigate successful transitions through options including open market sales, intergenerational family transitions and conversions to worker ownership models.
The Center’s new and returning community liaisons include the following regional representatives:
● Kelsey O’Shea, Cornell Cooperative Extension North Country Regional Ag Team
● Russ Kinyon, Franklin County Industrial Development Agency
● Christy Wilt and Rachelle Martz, Hamilton County Economic Development
● Brittany Davis, Lewis County Economic Development
● Mike Besaw, St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce
● Patrick Murphy, Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce
● Matthew Courtright and Erin Mullen, Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce
● Kylie Peck, Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce
Victoria Duley and Stephanie Donaldson of the AEDC join the project as a lead partners.
Angela Smith of the SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Clinton Community College and Carol Calabrese of the Essex County Industrial Development Agency are returning as lead partners for the second year of the initiative.
“Returning to the CBIT partnership for 2020 is important to the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce,” said Michael Besaw, St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Assistant Director. “Last year, we broke ground by sharing information and resources with our business community. In 2020 we look forward to meeting with more businesses and connecting them with experts who can aid in their transitions.”
The Center will host its second annual workshop series to address topics relevant for transitioning businesses. These six morning workshops, hosted by partner organizations throughout the region, are scheduled for April, May and September of 2020. Each of the following workshops will take place from 8:00-10:30 a.m.:
● April 23, 2020: “Business Transitions Overview: Where Do You Start?,” hosted by Lewis County Economic Development/IDA
● April 28, 2020: “Mentoring a New Owner: The First Year,” hosted by St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce
● May 6, 2020: “From Hello to Key Transfer: Communicating During the Transition Process,” hosted by Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce
● May 7, 2020: “Marketing Your Available Business,” hosted by the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and the County of Franklin Economic Development/IDA
● September 23, 2020: “Determining Value: Perspectives from Buyers and Sellers,” hosted by Hamilton County IDA
● September 24, 2020: “Your Best Possible Successor is Already Working for You,” hosted by Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce
After receiving positive feedback about different participation opportunities offered in 2019, community liaisons will again offer remote viewing sessions for those who are unable to attend workshops in person. Workshops will also be recorded so that interested business owners can view them at their convenience and as needed in the future.
The Center will sponsor additional 2020 programming developed by regional partners, including a forum on strategic planning for small businesses, farm transitions and other topics related to business transitions and succession planning. Following the January 17 strategic planning retreat, CBIT presented relevant data to invited local leaders and government officials interested in learning more about the partnership and its objectives.
“In 2019, 56 percent of retiring business owners and 71 percent of aspiring entrepreneurs who reached out to CBIT are just starting their journeys,” said Delaini. She said that many of these people are interested in learning more about the Center, accessing free and low-cost local resources and attending informational events.
“There is much work to be done. Transitioning a business takes an average of three to five years to complete, and there are many variables to work through.”
All materials developed by the partnership are available for other organizations to use to assist businesses. Economic development staff who would like access to these tools are invited to contact the Center. The partnership is also seeking co-working spaces and event partners to assist with workshops and other events.
North Country business owners looking to transition their operations to new owners or a new ownership model, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs looking to take over an existing business, are invited to contact the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 891-6200 for more information or to be connected with a community liaison. Information about the Center and its programs can be found at www.adirondack.org/businesses-in-transition.