Rep. Delgado, Official SBA Tour of Otsego County Sites

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Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the US Small Business Administration, right, chats at the Baseball Hall of Fame with, from left, Hall of Fame Chairman Josh Rawitch, Vice Chairman Eric Strohl and member of the Congressman Antonio Delgado during a March 4 visit to small businesses in Cooperstown.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, a member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet, first stopped with the congresswoman at the Cooperstown Distillery, joined by village mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, the county treasurer of Otsego, Allen Ruffles, and regional SBA officials. Distillery owner Gene Marra arranged the tour.

“We believe in small, local businesses,” Marra told the delegation. “We use local grains from our farm in Canajoharie and from Rochester, we get our barrels from Remsen. It’s completely New York.

He credited the Village and SBA’s assistance in his work to expand his Railroad Avenue business from 3,000 to 12,000 square feet; Rep. Delgado noted that expanding the craft beverage market is important to the economy of upstate New York.

“Agritourism is big business in this part of the country,” Marra agreed. As he displayed the distillery’s exclusive baseball, football and golf club-shaped bottles, he noted, “The Wall Street Journal calls New York the ‘Kentucky of the North’ because we distill so much bourbon from world class. There are 90 distilleries here now, of course ours is the best of them all!

Representative Delgado and Administrator Guzman then visited Cooperstown Bat, a maker of game-ready baseball bats for players of all ages and the third-oldest bat company in the United States. Owner Tim Haney led a tour through the facility, among the tens of thousands of small businesses across the country receiving funding from Paycheck Protection and the COVID Economic Disaster Loan. Mr. Haney talked about the process of making wooden game bats.

Before ending the afternoon with a meeting of Rep. Delgado’s Small Business Roundtable at Village Hall in Cooperstown, the group headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame where Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch and Eric Strohl, the Hall’s vice president of exhibits and collections, led a tour of the museum’s highlights.

“The world is coming back,” Mr Rawitch said. “We hope for 100,000 guests this year; we are in a much better position than a year ago.

Administrator Casillas Guzman spoke with Hall officials about the importance of closed venue operator grants — a pandemic-era funding program that has helped tourist attractions like the Hall of Fame maintain the balance of books when COVID rules kept buildings closed to visitors. Stopping to admire the Hall’s exhibits featuring women in baseball and Black League history, she proudly proclaimed her love for the Los Angeles Dodgers and spoke of a previous visit to Cooperstown.

“I was here before when our kids played a tournament at Dreams Park,” she said. “My family loved this place and we couldn’t wait to come back.”

After the tour, Administrator Casillas Guzman spoke with The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta about the SBA’s goals as the nation begins to recover from the grip of COVID. She said ARPA funding and the Biden administration’s infrastructure package were key to growth.

“The SBA exists to connect small businesses to the information they need,” she said. “We’re here to help you with financing opportunities, growth and market access, technical assistance. The granting of this aid has led to a 30% growth in business start-ups over the past year. »

She said the SBA and the Biden administration aren’t just focused on manufacturers.

“Just today we have a report of 600,000 new online jobs in February,” she said during the March 4 tour. “There are so many in restaurants and stores that are reopening.”

“Going forward, we need to deliver the help businesses rely on to grow their own digitalization and reach their customers,” she said, noting the work of the SBA’s Digital Alliance program. “That’s why an infrastructure package is so vital to small businesses in Otsego County.”

Speaking to Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta, Rep. Delgado echoed his comments and focused on a policy priority he espoused throughout the debate leading to what he called “the initiative bipartisan infrastructure that we adopted last year”.

“Broadband,” he said. “As we have seen throughout the pandemic, digital has become the means by which businesses have stayed alive. The bipartisan infrastructure package is so important to rural communities in Otsego County as we rebuild Main Street and keep it growing. »

“We’re bringing more people here with better broadband,” he said.

Representative Delgado also highlighted the importance of upgrading roads in the region for delivery and travel needs.

“There was a report out there about 80 percent of the roads in Otsego County needed repairs,” he said. “We need to make sure the trucks can get here to deliver the products and keep the region growing.”

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