Business owners on the receiving end of the Genesee CARES Business Recovery Fund grant program say they are thankful and appreciative of the opportunity to achieve their entrepreneurial goals.
The Batavian reached out today to several of the 22 for-profit businesses that will share $875,000 from the initial round of the program, which is supported by a New York State Community Development Block Grant and facilitated by the Genesee County Economic Development Center and The Harrison Studio.
The complete list of recipients was published first by The Batavian yesterday. Another round of funding is possible, according to GCEDC Marketing Director Jim Krencik.
Two business owners and a manager of a third company responded to requests for comments about the program, and what has been and what is to come at their locations.
THE SPA AT ARTEMIS
206 EAST MAIN ST., BATAVIA
The $65,000 grant awarded to The Spa at Artemis will enable the full service spa to keep growing, Pautler said.
“I have quite a big vision for what I want this business to turn into and this is going to help propel us in that direction,” she said.
When she purchased the spa in June 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had just taken hold and many businesses were forced to close or drastically reduce hours and services.
“They (the previous owners) were considering closing and at the time, I was pregnant and was nervous about finding a new job,” said Pautler, a licensed massage therapist. “I kind of figured if there was ever a time to take a leap like this, that was it.”
Pautler said 2020 was a rough year, mentioning that exposure to the virus forced a two-week shutdown and left her as the only employee available to work (since she was away from the office to give birth).
“After that, we had a partial ceiling collapse, which has been fixed. So, 2020 was really just kind of wild,” she offered. “Since then, we have done a lot of cosmetic updates. And with this grant, we're hoping to replace some existing equipment and really just kind of like elevate the culture of the spa. And we plan to bring on some new staff members.”
Pautler said she doesn’t foresee any problems filling new positions due to “an unmet demand for services.”
CHAP’S ELBA DINER
5 SOUTH MAIN ST., ELBA
With 18 to 20 employees and even more in the summer, Chappius said she will follow the guidelines of the grant – she received $50,000 – by hiring more people with the goal of expanding the diner’s healthy meals program in conjunction with www.macyparadisefit/meals.
“We have been working with a nutritionist to provide healthy meals, and after starting with 20 or 30 a week, right now we’re up to 300 to 350 a week,” she said. “It’s home-cooked good food that we normally do here, we just portion it and make sure all the micros are correct.”
Chappius said that was one of the criteria she used on her application for the grant – that she would be adding employees to grow the healthy meals venture.
She said she has benefitted both financially and physically, mentioning that she has lost 83 pounds on the nutritional program since November.
Furthermore, Chappius said some of the grant will be used for advertising to increase sales and get the word out to her “loyal customers.”
“We’re very lucky here at the diner because we have a lot of loyal customers that got us through COVID,” she said. “The month that we were closed, we sold hundreds of chicken (barbecue) dinners through the window … and we were so blessed.”
“We’re just so blessed here in this small town. I’m just so glad to have landed here because the customers have been terrific in how they have supported us.”
Chappius also had kind words for Michael Zimmerman of The Harrison Studio, coordinator of the grant program,
“Mr. Zimmerman was just wonderful to work with after I applied, and the application was very clear to read,” she said. “And when I had some questions, I emailed him and he immediately -- the same day -- turned my questions into answers.”
ALLEGHANY FARM SERVICES, ALABAMA
Finding the best employees is key for Alleghany Services, a leader in the farm drainage industry for more than 30 years.
“For us, training is a huge investment, especially because the drainage work that we do is such a specialty,” Fetzer said. “With the ($60,000) grant, we’re going to use it for new hires.”
She explained that some of the pieces of equipment used by the company can take six months for a new employee to learn how to operate it.
“So, we're going to use all the funds to invest in new operators and get some fresh talent as we grow our number of drainage crews,” Fetzer said. “Hopefully, the grant will come right around the same time when the high schools are letting out. And we've had great luck in the past getting fresh, young talent right out of high school.
“Some of our best hires, we've actually hired right out of high school and they’re going on year five or six now. They started green and they’ve worked their way up in the company since.”
Fetzer said Alleghany’s customers will benefit from the grant as well.
“We’re very excited. Our customers have already seen an increase through COVID. With the price of pipe gong up over 40 percent since the beginning, this will allow us to hire more employees and with that we can keep the costs down for farmers.”