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SUNY Plattsburgh Awarded Grant to Help Businesses in Response to Pfizer Closing

Plattsburgh, N.Y. (Dec. 16, 2010) -- A new grant will help small businesses impacted by local Pfizer closings.The U.S. Small Business Association grant of $53,000 recently awarded to the North Country Small Business Development Center is designed to assist those local businesses and entrepreneurs who have been hit hard by the closings. The pharmaceutical company announced last year it was closing its three North Country research and development operations at a loss of about 600 jobs. The award is one of only 11 Portable Assistance Projects nationally and the only one in New York state. 

“With Pfizer having been such a large employer in the North Country, there was a definite need for this kind of assistance,” said Rick Leibowitz, regional director of the center, which is based at SUNY Plattsburgh. “This funding will allow us to create an innovative response to the particular needs of our region.”

The center will use the funds to create a marketing cooperative that empowers Clinton County businesses to advertise goods and services to Canadian travelers who cross the border. 

“It would be costly to take on a marketing campaign in Canada on our own,” Kris Duus of Lakeside Coffee in Rouses Point said. “And I am grateful for the Small Business Development Center’s assistance with this marketing initiative.”

The grant will also fund the development of an enhanced feasibility tool. This tool will allow aspiring entrepreneurs to better assess the risk/reward potential of business ideas. Current business owners will also be able to use it to forecast results for various scenarios like the launch of a new product line or a marketing campaign. 

In addition, through the Small Business Development Center’s Portability Project, the center will use the funds to help businesses create best-practice models in response to market changes caused by the loss of this major employer, Leibowitz said. These models will then be reproduced and shared with other similarly impacted communities. 

“SUNY Plattsburgh’s strategic plan calls for the college to provide services to our region and beyond,” SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling said. “Our North Country Small Business Development Center has a reputation for doing just that, but this grant will increase the organization’s ability to target those specific challenges we face in our community, provide innovative solutions and share the results with other communities throughout the United States.”

“Our mission is simple – make sure these grant funds are put to good use to help our local economy,” said Kim Rowe Manion, who was recently hired as the project coordinator for this grant.

Feasibility classes have already been offered to former Pfizer employees seeking self-employment opportunities. The center plans to implement the marketing cooperative by this spring and the updated feasibility assessment tool by this summer.

About North Country Small Business Development Center

The North Country Small Business Development Center is charged with assisting North Country entrepreneurs, small business, and industry through advising, training and research. Additionally, the center provides needed services to manufacturers, women, veterans, minority and physically challenged individuals and to businesses in distressed regions. Counseling services are free and confidential through a cooperative agreement with SUNY Plattsburgh and the U.S. Small Business Administration.  For more information go to www.northcountrysbdc.org.

About U.S. Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  For more information go to www.sba.gov.

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