9 MAP grads get boost with grants ranging from $12K to $20K

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Eight of nine graduates of the Microenterprise Assistance Program, who received special grants for their businesses, are shown at The Lockstone in Albion. Seated, from left, are Jenna Chevier, Lynn Palmer, Jackie Chinn, Nickie Poler Girardo and Sarah Ebbs. Standing are Dorothy Daniels, MAP instructor; Natasha Wasuck, Margie Steffen, MAP coordinator Diane Blanchard, and Kim and John Woodams. Absent is Laura Kemler.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 14 January 2022 at 7:00 pm

Provided photos: Laura Kemler stands in her store at 45 North Main St., Albion, Laura Loxley Vintage Inspired Goods. Her business was boosted by a $20,000 grant through the Microenterprise Assistance Program.

ALBION – Nine graduates of the Microenterprise Assistance Program, who received special grants of $10,000 to $20,000, celebrated at lunch Tuesday at The Lockstone in Albion.

Lockstone’s owner, Natasha Wasuck, was one of the graduates and grant recipients. She said buying the site of The Lockstone, a former automotive and carpet store, has proven to be quite a venture.

Wasuck, who is also a realtor, took the MAP class in 2019 because she wanted to educate herself in all aspects of business, she said. Her business is a wedding and event venue, with an ice cream parlor during the summer.

Her $12,000 grant enabled her to buy a bar cooler and furniture for her wedding venue. She called the MAP an asset to the community.

“A lot of small businesses which might have struggled have been able to start up, because of MAP,” she said.

Margie Steffen, who owns Studio 11 Hair Salon at 11 East Bank St., Albion, has been in business for 22 years, but still found she learned how to better her busienss in taking the MAP class.

“I had also taken it eight years ago and took it again in April last year, because I still thought I could benefit from it,” she said. “I wanted to refresh my business skills and find out if there were any new opportunities available. I learned having a business plan is essential.”

One of those opportunities available to graduates was applying for the state GOSC/OCR grant. Steffen received $15,000, which enabled her to give her shop a facelift and buy new barbering and spa equipment.

John Woodams, who owns a hops farm with his wife Kim in Kendall, attended the MAP class in 2021. With their $15,000 grant, they were able to buy 2,500 more hops plants, bringing their total to 8,000.

John said the class was a big help to them.

“Learning how to develop a business plan was the most beneficial,” Kim said.

Sarah Ebbs has been baking with her grandmother and mother since she was 13, so having her own bakery is a dream come true. Her mom Pam Jenks first started the bakery and it really took off after they opened Pretty Sweet Bakery in 2019 at 117 North Main St.

Ebbs took the MAP spring class in 2021. With her $15,000 grant she was able to revamp the bakery, purchase new equipment and inventory and create seating options for customers. She said the MAP and grant availability were great opportunities for a new business.

Sarah Ebbs, one of the graduates of the Microenterprise Assistance Program, has been approved for a state grant to expand her business, Pretty Sweet Bakery, at 117 North Main St., Albion.

Nickie Poler Girardo is a mixologist who runs a mobile bar tending service. She will create a personalized menu for any event, including weddings, holiday parties, private gatherings or corporate events. She will create signature cocktails, and brings staff and all supplies with her.

“I take the guesswork out of bar service for an event,” she said.

Her $15,000 grant enabled her to purchase a new enclosed trailer, new equipment, beverage refrigerators and a generator for the trailer.

Jenna Chevier of Kendall Road, Holley, has put her knowledge of event planning and digital marketing to work to form her business, Eventageous Media Marketing.

“I wanted to take the things I enjoy most and do them for other people,” she said.

She has taken some courses, but most of what she knows she learned from experience, including website design. In event planning, she caters small to medium size weddings and entertainment conventions.

With her $12,000 grant, she was able to buy equipment to facilitate her marketing for small businesses.

Jackie Chinn took two things she is passionate about and turned them into her business, Lyric and Lizzy Boutique, located at 335 North Main St., Medina. Her store sells clothing for children from infant to size 12 and treats, toys and accessories for dogs and cats

She recently added a new feature, Lincoln Bear and Buddy, where children 3 and older can made their own bear in the store. She has also introduced a Book and Bear concept for parents or grandparents who want a unique gift for their child. It includes a book, tee shirt, craft, stickers and a toy.

Chinn took the MAP class in 2019, before opening her business in 2020. Her $15,000 grant enabled her to buy new merchandise and shelving for her store.

Lynn Palmer’s $15,000 grant enabled her to increase her inventory and purchase new shelving for her store, Upscale Overstock, at 50 North Main St., Albion. At the recent MAP graduation, she shared her story of rising from poverty to becoming a self-sufficient, successful businesswoman.

The last recipient, and one of the most successful MAP graduates, is Laura Kemler, who owns Laura Loxley Vintage Inspired Goods at 45 North Main St., Albion.

She produces unique handmade and hand dyed fabric goods. A $20,000 grant enabled her to purchase inventory and equipment. She has returned several times to talk to MAP graduates about what the program has done for her.

Two Microenterprise Assistance Program classes are held annually. The next one is scheduled April 5 to June 14 at the Arnold Gregory Building. Anyone wishing to enroll may contact coordinator Diane Blanchard at (585) 589-7060.