New group of entrepreneurs completes small business training class through Orleans EDA

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Participants in the fall class of the Orleans Economic Development Agency’s Microenterprise Assistance Program graduated Tuesday night at Gallo’s Bar and Grill in Hamlin. Seated, from left, are MAP administrator Diane Blanchard, Brandi DiMatteo, instructor Dorothy Daniels, Jennifer Walker and Mandee Heinsler. Standing, from left, are Sam Campanella with the Small Business Development Corporation, Mindi Warne, Dan Rosentreter, Michelle Gallo, Christina Nenni, Charlie Ricci, Diego Russell and Tracie Fleischhut.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 17 November 2022 at 7:10 pm

HAMLIN – The Orleans Economic Development Agency graduated 10 budding business entrepreneurs from its fall class Tuesday night at Gallo’s Bar and Grill in Hamlin.

Gallo’s co-owner Michelle Gallo graduated from the Microenterprise Assistance Program several years ago and has become an instructor for the class. The insights from MAP helped her and her husband to run two successful businesses – the bar and grill in Hamlin and Gallo’s Performance Auto Parts & Truck in Brockport.

Diane Blanchard, administrator of the Microenterprise Assistance Program, cuts the cake at the fall graduation ceremony Tuesday at Gallo’s Bar and Grill in Hamlin.

Administrator of MAP, Diane Blanchard, introduced Tuesday’s graduates and their proposed businesses. They are Brandi DiMatteo of Albion, event planning and party rentals; Tracie Fleischhut of Middleport, retail store and antique gifts; Jordan Gawne of Medina, bakery; Mandee Heinsler of Waterport, dance boutique; Gabrielle Joyner of Albion, holistic wellness center; Christina Nenni of Medina, party rentals; Charlie Ricci of Medina, heavy equipment and golf cart rentals; Dan Rosentreter of Medina, Coffee Pot Café; Diego Russell of Medina, lawn care; and Jennifer Walker of Albion, party bus.

Also attending the graduation were Sam Campanella with the Small Business Administration; John Fitzak, county legislator and board member of Economic Development Agency; Craig Tuohey and Skip Draper, board members of the EDA; Dorothy Daniels, instructor; and guest speaker Dan Conrad, MAP graduate and owner of Toyz n Kandy in Albion.

The graduates gave short speeches, describing their proposed business and goals.

Charlie Ricci was inspired by his late grandfather, who was a contractor, and his father Dan Ricci, who owned a golf course. They provided the role models to start a business renting heavy equipment and golf carts.

“MAP helped me in all aspects of starting a new business,” Ricci said. “From the banks who visited our class, I learned about loan options. The lawyer Brett Dawson wrote my contract for the rental business.”

Ricci, who currently runs a dump truck business hauling stone, sand and top soil, said he will rent heavy equipment and golf carts because there is nothing like it in the area.

Brandi DiMatteo, whose business Yolo plans events and has party rentals, said what will set her business apart is the attention to detail.

“I combine old-fashioned value, by going the extra mile and using cutting-edge ideas to plan my customers next special event,” she said. “Being in business has always been my dream.”

She will offer reasonable prices, and customers can choose from full packages or custom options. Rentals will include everything from tables and chairs to decorations.

Dan Rosentreter opened the Coffee Pot Café on East Center Street in Medina on Aug. 1. He sells coffee, tea, lemonade, bagels and pastries and is in the process of creating a full bakery in the store.

Like other graduates, MAP helped him with a business plan and made him eligible to apply for grants.

Jordan Gawne, Christina Nenni and Brandi DiMatteo all graduated from the Microenterprise Assistance Program Tuesday night. They are in related businesses and plan to help each other along the way.

Jennifer Walker hopes to purchase a party bus and offer a unique and fun way to attend special events. Her party bus would be a limousine with entertainment enroute to wineries, business meetings, weddings or other events. Alcohol would be allowed if provided by the passengers.

Christina Nenni and Michelle Wiseman started Party Tyme Rentals about three years ago, during the height of Covid. They brought party supplies to families to use in the safety of their own home. In March 2021 they moved into the Arnold Gregory Complex in Albion. What Nenni learned in the MAP class has guided them in establishing a business which is not only successful, but very supportive of their community. They rent photo booths, popcorn machines, bounce houses and party decorations.

Tracie Fleischhut used the support she gained from MAP to open Rustic Ridge Country Store on Ridge Road. It is a retail store with antique gifts and vendors. Her goal is to accommodate 25 vendors. She hopes to seek grants through MAP.

Jordan Gawne’s expertise is specialty cakes, and she hopes to open a bakery in Medina. One thing MAP encourages is networking with other classmates, and Gawne, Nenni and Brandi DiMatteo have shared ideas and plan to work with each other.

Dan Conrad, a MAP graduate and owner of Toyz N Kandy in Albion, talks to the fall graduating class on how MAP helped him build a successful business.

Mandee Heinsler of Lyndonville sells dance apparel and supports the arts at her business, Barre Boutique, in Albion at the Gotta Dance by Miss Amy studio.

Diego Russell has started Hometown Lawn Care in Medina, and will mow lawns, rake leaves and do yard cleanup.

Gabrielle Joyner also graduated from the class, but was unable to attend the graduation. She hopes to start a Holistic Wellness Center.

Guest speaker for the evening was MAP graduate Dan Conrad, who shared how he took the class to start a new business when a hand injury prevented him from doing his construction job. His business, Toyz N Kandy, occupies 1,200 square feet of space on Albion’s Main Street.

“MAP is a great resource,” Conrad said. “I never hesitated to pick up the phone and call Diane for advice.”

He stressed the importance of getting out and working together with other business owners. He said he walked throughout downtown connecting the other business owners. He is currently awaiting a grant from the EDA, with which he plans to open a second location in Brockport.

“Don’t ever lose your dream,” he told the graduates. “Be creative, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.”

The evening concluded with cake supplied by Cassandra Brady, a MAP graduate who operates Iced and Glazed Bakery.

The Microenterprise Assistance Program started in 1999 and since then, 567 people have gone through the program. MAP offers two classes each year – one in the spring and one in the fall.