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Local Small Business Selected as Start-Up Business of the Year

PLATTSBURGH, NY — A Chateaugay couple has been selected winners of the New York State 2006 Small Business Development Center's (SBDC) Start-Up Company of the Year.

Rachel and Norman Karp, owners of Video Storm, were honored Tuesday, May 2 at the SBDC Entrepreneurial Awards Banquet in Catskill, N.Y.  Entrepreneur of the Year awards honor New Yorkers who have overcome significant obstacles and exercised vision and persistence to launch their businesses. 

The Karps were selected for this honor from among hundreds of SBDC clients across the state.   Dan O'Connell, a project officer with the New York State Small Business Administration, introduced the Karps during the banquet.

After he was presented with the award, Norman Karp said that this was only the beginning of their business ventures.


Rachel and Norman Karp were planning to open a restaurant, with the help of the North Country SBDC, when an automobile accident deprived Norman of his sight. The Karps changed their plans and settled on operating a video rental store. 

Karen Stehlin, an advisor with the North Country SBDC, helped the Karps to revise their business plan and cash flow projections for the new business. Along with investing their own funds, the Karps secured funding support from the Commission for the Blind and the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation. Video Storm opened in Chateaugay on July 1, 2005.

"I doubt we could have realized our dream of owning a business without the help of Karen Stehlin and the North Country SBDC," said Rachel Karp. 

"We consult with her on a regular basis to make sure we are meeting interim and long-term goals," added Norman Karp.

The awards ceremony, which takes place annually during a conference that includes SBDC professionals from across the state, followed this year's conference theme of "Helping Small Businesses Evolve Through Technology."


Norman uses a computer program called JAWS to help him manage the business. The JAWS program converts text into speech, enabling individuals who are visually impaired or otherwise disabled to perform tasks that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. JAWS provides many useful commands making it easier to use programs, edit documents and read Web pages. It also has a refreshable Braille display so that Braille output can be provided in addition to, or instead of, speech. 

An array of versatile features and customizable options allows the user to tailor JAWS for individual needs and preferences. JAWS has enabled Norman to create and maintain financial spreadsheets for all day-to-day operations, do the accounting and maintain the store's inventory.

"These entrepreneurs are hard-working individuals with the skills and the determination needed to succeed," said Stehlin.

The SBDC, funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the State of New York and the State University of New York, provides high quality, pro bono, small business counseling, training and focused research to approximately 15,000 entrepreneurs a year. Since its inception in 1984, the 23 regional offices statewide have worked directly with nearly 250,000 businesses, helping them invest more than $3 billion in the state's economy and creating or saving over 117,000 jobs.  

The North Country SBDC, located at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, has worked directly with 5,270 businesses, helping them invest almost $45.7 million in the area's economy and creating or saving more than 1,779 jobs over the last 25 years.

The North Country SBDC provides free confidential counseling and management services to new and existing small businesses in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and northern Washington counties.

For more about the North Country Small Business Development Center, visit www.plattsburgh.edu/offices/support/sbdc online or contact the center at 518-564-2042.

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