GENEVA — City entrepreneurs don’t need to go it alone when it comes to starting or growing their business.

“Businesses are the backbone of our downtown and local economy,” said City Manager Sage Gerling. “We have a close working relationship with Port 100, the Small Business Development Center at Finger Lakes Community College, Hobart and William Smith Entrepreneurial Studies Program and other opportunities like a small business adviser provided free of charge to our residents.”

Gerling said those supports are “critical to providing a high level of technical and financial assistance to new and existing businesses.”

Kathleen Ferrara is the city’s small business adviser.

“Kathleen is available in many capacities such as fine-tuning business plans, assisting with advice to access financial capital for expansion and best marketing and staffing practices,” Gerling said. “There has been a considerable amount of small business interest in our city and Kathleen has been a crucial part of assisting these individuals.”

For example, for the Microenterprise Assistance Program’s grant process this year, the city received 22 applications —13 new businesses and nine for business expansion — requesting $408,568, but with an available funding pool of $175,000.

Gerling said applicants can meet with Ferrara regardless of whether they get funding from the Microenterprise Program. If a business is awarded a MAP grant, recipients are required to meet with her regularly as part of an effort to improve chances of business success, she said.

“I am thoroughly enjoying working with the city of Geneva as their small business adviser,” Ferrara said. “I am impressed with how much the city supports small businesses and how the city looks for ways to make small businesses successful. Also, just by the fact that the city has a small business adviser to help coach startup businesses on how to create meaningful business plans that will hopefully result in new business in the city of Geneva speaks volumes. Small businesses are at the heart of America’s entrepreneurial system, and our work to help them develop and grow is the city of Geneva is very rewarding.”

If you would like to work with Ferrara on your business idea or existing business, contact Collette Barnard at to set up an appointment. For more information, go to:

Besides the Microenterprise Assistance Program, the city also offers a revolving loan fund, as well as partnerships with the Local Development Corporation and the Industrial Development Agency.

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