New group of entrepreneurs graduate from MAP class

Photos courtesy of Diane Blanchard: Microenterprise Assistant Program graduates and their advisers posed after graduation ceremonies at Tillman’s Villlage Inn. Front row, from left, are Lynne Palmer (Upscale Overstock Store), Jon Costello, SCORE and class consultant; Rachael Hafner (B&R Trailer Repair and Fabrication); Heather Manella (How Sweet it is Bakery on Wheels); and Chelsea Smith, Relentless Construction. Back row, from left, Diane Blanchard, MAP manager; Andrea Dames (Chicken and Rib Food Truck); Karen Boston (Paparazzi Jewelry Consultant); Greg Drake (Drake’s Home Improvement/Handyman); Brad Hafner (B&R Trailer Repair and Fabrication); Dawn Dewey (D&H Welding and Repair; Jacqueline Chinn (Credit Clarity); Josh Smith (Relentless Construction); and Sam Campanella (SBDC and class consultant).

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 15 November 2019 at 3:36 pm

Heather Manella attended the Microenterprise Assistance Program to gain assistance in opening a bakery in Albion. She is one of 12 graduates from the latest MAP class.

ALBION – The latest class of graduates from the Microenterprise Assistance Program brings a variety of innovative businesses to the table, said Diane Blanchard, who manages the Microenterprise program for the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

Nine of the 12 graduates attended graduation ceremonies at the Village Inn last week and shared their plans for new businesses.

This class brings the number of graduates to 518 who have gone through the program since it started in 1999.

Several graduates shared their business plans with the class, including Heather Manella. She is the owner of How Sweet it is Bakery. She is a self-taught baker who enjoys learning new things and taking on new challenges. She has a passion for feeding people good homemade food.

Born and raised in Norman, Okla., Manella and her family moved east to be near her husband’s aunt. She fell in love with the quaint village of Albion and the amazing New York summers, she said.

Manella will be operating out of the certified kitchen at Lockstone Events and Weddings on Main Street in Albion, until she is able to open her own kitchen.

Greg Drake is a handyman who plans to open Drake’s Home Improvement. He offers a wide variety of services, including plumbing, electrical, drywall repair, gutter cleaning, furniture assembly, heavy lifting, interior and exterior painting and pressure washing.

“Whatever your needs are, Drake’s Home Improvement can help,” he said. “If the job is too big or out of the scope of our services, I will work with you to find a contractor to fit the job.”

Greg Drake plans to open a handyman business in Orleans County.

His hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays as negotiated. His targeted customers are anyone needing handyman services, from home owners to property management companies.

His philosophy is to treat every customer as his most important customer.

Jacqueline Chinn also feels her anticipated business, Credit Clarity, which offers credit counseling, credit repair and credit building, is one which is badly needed in Orleans County.

“Orleans County has a lot of low-income families and individuals on public assistance,” Chinn said. “I’d like to work with them to develop a budget and show them how to stay on a budget. Everyone deserves an opportunity to become independent.”

Lynn Palmer of Middleport plans to open an overstock store on Main Street in Medina.

“Much like Ollies and Big Lots, Upscale Overstock will sell brand name general merchandise at less than retail prices,” Palmer said. “This will allow customers to purchase merchandise they may not otherwise be able to afford.”

Palmer’s goals for her business are to grow the business enough to move into her own building, be able to hire approximately five employees and to sell online. She will initially open Nov. 29 at 339 North Main St., the space formerly occupied by Zambito Realty.

She feels her chances of success are wonderful, since there aren’t any companies like this in Orleans County.

Palmer has five years of college under her belt, as well as 13 years experience as a supervisor in the retail department at Darien Lake, six years of business management experience, two years of retail experience at Dollar Tree and one year at Walmart.

Her daughter Samantha will work in the store on days Palmer has to work at Walmart. Samantha is also a crafter and many of her crafts will be for sale in the store.

Palmer will also utilize her store to promote worthy causes in the county. On opening day, customers who bring in supplies to donate to PAWS can enter to win a Christmas Movie Night raffle basket.

Other graduates were Andrea Dames, who plans to run a chicken and ribs food truck; Karen Boston, Paparazzi jewelry consultant; Brad and Rachel Hafner, B&R Trailer Repair and Fabrication; Dawn Dewey, D&H Welding and Repair; and Josh and Chelsea Smith, Relentless Construction.

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