ROTTERDAM: Town vows to keep small business vital

Town officials are trying to make the town inviting for small businesses through a variety of initiatives and state grants.

In the past, Rotterdam grew up with small, family-owned businesses, but now larger corporations such as the Galesi Group and the Golub Corporation have become staples. In recent years other large corporations such as Railex, Fedex and VonRoll have invested in the town, making it possible for Rotterdam's Industrial Development Agency to fund the growth of smaller businesses. Each time a business invests in the town, the IDA receives a small sum.

Our IDA has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years, and right now they have a substantial bank account, Supervisor Steven Tommasone said.

The IDA has agreed to help small businesses fix up their properties through a matching grant program.

According to chairman Angelo Santabarbara, the IDA would give up to $2,500 on a matching basis for small businesses which want to beautify their properties or make them handicapped accessible.

The grant money will hopefully allow business owners along Hamburg Street to spruce up their properties with the extra cash. Revitalizing the Hamburg Street corridor has been a focus of the town's administration.

Frank DePalma, who owns DePalma's Screenprinting and Embroidery and is one of the founders of the Hamburg Street Merchants Association, said if grant money was available for him to fix up his property, he would apply for it.

"I would take advantage of that, sure," DePalma said.

The IDA is still hammering out the specifics of applying for the grants.

The town is also trying to help small businesses through Restore NY grant money. Restore NY is a state initiative that is designed to encourage economic growth and neighborhood development by providing municipalities with money to revitalize certain areas.

Rotterdam successfully won $2 million in Restore NY grants during the first round of funding, which will go toward the Rotterdam Commerce Park. Tommasone said the Galesi Group, which owns the Commerce Park, plans to use the state money to renovate buildings three and four and make them more conducive to small businesses.

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