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STBJ Briefs

Schneiderman: Ithaca businessman arrested for grand larceny and tax fraud ITHACA — An Ithaca businessman was arrested earlier this month on two felony charges stemming from underreporting taxable sales and sales tax due between 2005 and 2012. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Jerry Boone, commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, announced the arrest of Jonathan Pargh in a news release issued Sept. 2. Pargh, 59, owned a “head shop” called “3-D Light” and a women’s clothing and accessory store called “Loose Threads.” He operated both businesses as sole proprietorships, and both stores collected sales taxes on all retail sales. An investigation by the state Taxation and Finance Department revealed that Pargh underreported more than $1.1 million in taxable sales for both 3-D Light and Loose Threads between June 1, 2005, and August 31, 2012, Schneiderman’s office said.

Pargh also underreported gross business income of more than $632,000 on his New York personal-income tax returns for both retail stores, which were subject to income tax. Pargh As a result, between June 1, 2005, and August 31, 2012, Pargh “failed” to pay sales tax of more than $86,000 that he owed New York and personal-income tax of nearly $49,000 that he also owed New York, according to the release. Pargh was arraigned Sept. 2 before Judge Richard Wallace in Ithaca City Court on one felony count of grand larceny in the third degree and one felony count of criminal tax fraud in the fourth degree. The case has been transferred to Tompkins County Court for further proceedings.

Chemung Canal Trust promotes two executive officers ELMIRA — Chemung Canal Trust Company announced it has promoted bank executives Louis C. DiFabio and Thomas W. Wirth to replace Richard G. Carr and Melinda A. Sartori, whose retirements are pending at year-end. The moves are part of an existing management succession plan. DiFabio, currently executive vice president of retail banking, will serve as executive vice president of the business client services group, replacing Carr, who has held that position since July 2004, according to a Chemung Canal news release. In his new role, DiFabio will oversee the Chemung Canal and Capital Bank commercial lending teams. Additionally he will provide oversight for the bank’s credit department and business services unit. DiFabio joined the bank as a management trainee in 1987 and was elected an officer in 1991. He has nearly a decade of commercial-lending experience, prior to his move to the retail division of the bank. In his current role, he supervises residential, consumer and indirect lending, and is a member of the bank’s senior loan committee. A native of Rochester, DiFabio is a graduate of SUNY Albany and earned an MBA from Syracuse University. Wirth, currently senior vice president and chief investment officer, will now serve as executive vice president of the bank’s

Wealth Management Group, which has offices in Elmira, Binghamton, and Albany. He will replace Sartori, who has led the Wealth Management Group since 2002, according to the release. Wirth, who is also a chartered financial analyst, worked at Chemung Canal while in college and then joined the banking company in 1987 as a management trainee. He has spent the majority of his career in the Wealth Management Group, previously serving as a portfolio manager and a trust investment officer, in addition to other roles within the department. An Elmira native, Wirth graduated from Wake Forest University and earned his designation as a chartered financial analyst in 1997. Replacements for the current positions held by DiFabio and Wirth will be announced at a later date, as the transition continues between now and year-end, according to the release. Chemung Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: CHMG), the holding company for Chemung Canal Trust Company, has total assets of $1.6 billion. The bank’s operations include 34 branch offices located in 11 New York counties and Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Chemung Canal’s Wealth Management Group has about $1.9 billion in assets under management or administration. The bank has 397 full-time and part-time employees.

Ithaca Coffee Co. begins selling its coffee at Binghamton Airport TOWN OF MAINE — Ithaca Coffee Company products are now available at the new Gateway Café at the Greater Binghamton Airport, according to a posting on the airport’s blog. Ithaca Coffee Co. is a gourmet coffee roaster and retailer with stores in Ithaca and the town of Lansing. It has been a certified organic coffee roaster since 2010. The company also has a growing wholesale business and operates a bake shop in Ithaca. Julie Crowley is the owner of Ithaca Coffee Company. The Gateway Café — operated by FirstAir Group, Inc. — opened at the Greater Binghamton Airport in the town of Maine in early March. The café sells sandwiches, wraps, salads, coffee, and more. FirstAir Group is required to pay Broome County a minimum of 4 percent of its restaurant and food sales, according to its operating agreement with the county that runs through 2019.

Van Brunt named general manager of Serafini Nissan-Volvo in Vestal VESTAL — Serafini Nissan-Volvo announced that it recently named Mike Van Brunt general manager of its dealership in Vestal. Originally from Horseheads, Van Brunt earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from SUNY Fredonia. After graduation, he became coowner of his family’s dealership, Van Brunt Motors of Horseheads. He was in charge of dealer operations with a focus on sales management and used car Van Brunt operations. For the past eight years, Van Brunt has held the position of general manager at two other Elmira–area auto dealerships and, most recently, he was senior dealer operations manager for Nissan North America’s Upstate New York/Albany area. “I am excited to bring my 25 years of experience in the auto dealership business to the Binghamton market,” Van Brunt said in a news release. Serafini Nissan-Volvo is located at 3101 Vestal Parkway East.


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september 21, 2015 I southern tier business journal

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BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@tgbbj.com NORWICH — “Well Mr. Chamber of Commerce, what are you going to do about that?” In early 2014, a friend put the question to Steve Craig, the Commerce Chenango president and CEO, in response to the sudden announcement by Norwich Aero’s parent company, Esterline Technologies, that it was closing the Norwich plant and moving production to its Tijuana, Mexico facility and some administrative functions to its Buena Park, California location. Local media highlighted the closing with bold headlines declaring that 120 workers would be laid off. “Esterline had told us late in 2013 that the company was reorganizing,” recalls Craig, “but we had no idea that meant … [shuttering] the plant. All we heard was that the Norwich plant was setting records for quality, on-time delivery, and [profit] margins. Despite our best efforts to have Esterline reconsider the decision, it was obvious they felt we couldn’t offer incentives to offset the total labor cost of just $5 an hour paid in Mexico. The role now of Commerce Chenango is to spearhead the effort to find a new operator who will not only utilize the plant but also the workforce.” Craig describes his organization as a combination of a chamber of commerce, an industrial-development authority, and local-development corporation all rolled into one. “This could be a very attractive opportunity for the right company,” says Steven Palmatier, the workforce and industrial liaison who is contracted by the Chenango County planning department and who shares office space at Commerce Chenango. “The building contains 57,000 feet on one level and includes a 6,500-square-foot, highbay area. It comes with industrial electrical service, natural gas, municipal sewer and water, a 25-horse [power] reciprocating compressor, and 24/7 building security and monitoring. The workforce is very skilled in making high-precision sensors for America’s premier aerospace manufacturers, such as Boeing, G.E. Aircraft Engines, Airbus, and Pratt & Whitney. Norwich Aero is a vertically integrated company that does its own machining, welding, coil winding, encapsulation, harnessing, and cabling. Norwich Aero’s employees are also skilled in a variety of tests and inspections involving shock, humidity, pressure, and temperature. The only thing they don’t do in-house is electroplate coating.”

History

For the residents of Norwich, it’s déjà vu all over again, to quote the illustrious Yogi Berra. In 1983, the community watched Lewis Engineering close down its sensormanufacturing plant and move its operation to Connecticut. A native of the region, William G. Ballard, led a group of private investors to create Norwich Aero Products, Inc. The New York corporation was certified on Sept. 19, 1983, and went into production with six employees by December of that year, in a 5,000-square-foot building at 10 Gladding Lane. Ballard was the company’s president. Minutes of the Common

Council meeting from May 8, 1984, indicate unanimous approval of a request for a UDAG (Urban Development Action Grant) loan in the amount of $155,000. The loan supplemented $555,000 the company already had to buy machinery and equipment and to renovate the building. To accommodate its growth, Norwich Aero amended its certificate of incorporation on April 15, 1987, to increase the authorized shares from 100,000 to 5 million. In 1999, Roxboro Group, PLC, headquartered in the U.K., acquired all outstanding shares of the business of Norwich Aero from the group of private investors and management who had founded the company. Norwich Aero was then integrated into Roxboro’s Weston Aerospace operation, which also manufactured high-end sensors. On June 11, 2003, Esterline Technologies (NYSE: ESL) of Bellevue, Washington closed its acquisition of the Weston Group for $88 million. At the time, Esterline employed 5,000 people and generated $600 million in annual revenue.

Marketing the facility

“There are a number of incentives available to assist a potential buyer,” notes Craig. “The Industrial Development Agency is empowered to confer property-tax relief, mortgage-recording-tax abatement, state and local sales-tax abatement, and bond financing. In addition, the Empire State Development Corp. offers grants up to 20 percent of the cost of capital investments in the project. [The frosting on the cake, of course] … is the combination of not just the plant but also a very skilled workforce. That’s quite a package.” Craig and Palmatier are actively marketing the package. “From May 12 to 14, we promoted Norwich Aero at the Eastec exposition in W. Springfield, Massachusetts,” explains Palmatier. “With somewhere between 500 and 1,000 exhibitors, this is New England’s premier manufacturing trade show. I would guess that we spoke to 1,500 people about Norwich Aero at this show. In June, we traveled to the Javits Center in New York City for the Atlantic Design & Manufacturing show. Both events gave us an opportunity to reach out to hundreds of manufacturers in a very short time. Our marketing plan [to date] also includes e-mailing more than 1,000 prospects in the Northeast, our website presence at www.50oharadrive.com, and collaborating with CBRE (a Fortune 500 real-estate company). Future efforts include targeted Internet marketing, print, and cold calls in the Binghamton, Syracuse, Cortland, Utica, and Oneonta areas. We are also talking with three start-up companies as an option if we can’t find a single buyer.” Craig and Palmatier have been working closely with Esterline on the impending transition. “[The Bellevue Corporation] … underwrote the local effort to attend Eastec,” avers Palmatier. “Now we are waiting for a valuation on the property,” adds Craig. “There is also a serious flooding situation on the property, which has to be remediated. With Esterline planning on leaving the building by the end of December, there are ongoing negotiations to deal with a number of questions.” In the 12 years since Esterline bought Norwich Aero, the parent company has grown

photo credit: commerce chenango

Norwich Aero: déjà vu all over again

An employee of Norwich Aero works on a sensor component at the Norwich plant. The parent company, Esterline, is closing the plant by the end of the year. Commerce Chenango is seeking a buyer both for the building and for the 120 employees.

from $600 million in revenue and 5,000 employees to approximately $2 billion and 13,000 employees. The growth has come largely through acquiring a dozen companies. Today, 50 percent of Esterline’s business comes from commercial aerospace, 30 percent from defense, and 20 percent from non-aero applications. The company holds the number-one or number-two position in each of its market niches. The company’s sensor division also has facilities in California, Tijuana, France, the U.K., and Singapore. In the event the effort to find a buyer for Norwich Aero is unsuccessful before the plant closes, the employees are eligible

for a number of benefits. “While the U.S. Department of Labor is awaiting information from Esterline, the current employees will probably be eligible under the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program for free job training up to and including the associate degree level,” asserts Craig. “At the state level, a department of Labor Rapid Response Team is already assisting employees who are eligible with the full range of services provided by the CDO Workforce office, including counseling, skills-assessment, and the development SEE NORWICH AERO, page 9

Karen Latta, Owner White Rose Day Spa Vestal, N.Y.

Don Foote, Owner Big Foote’s Sporting Goods Waverly, N.Y.

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SOUTHERN TIER BUSINESS JOURNAL I SEPTEMBER 21, 2015

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BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@tgbbj.com ENDICOTT — In a 1979 report titled “The Job Generation Process,” David Birch, the president of Cognetics, Inc., a research firm headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, determined that only 3 percent of U.S. companies generated 70 percent of all new jobs. He found that most job generators were small companies (with a revenue base of $100,000 or more) that increased their revenue at least 20 percent compounded annually for four or more years. Birch called them “gazelles.” He went on to identify other companies as “elephants” and “mice”— Fortune 500 companies and mom-and-pop shops — which generated very few new jobs. ICS Solutions Group (ICS), which fits Birch’s description of a gazelle to a “tee,” also identifies its business in terms of animals: turtles, monkeys, lions, and camels. “I attribute a lot of our rapid growth to Dr. Larry Little,” says Kevin Blake, president of ICS. “He coached us based on his book, “Make a Difference,” which explains the power of relationships and how to understand your own personality as well as the personalities of the people you lead. Dr. Little challenged us to strategically perform at a high level in order to make a difference … The four animals represent four different personality F I N G E R

L A K E S

characteristics. All the employees here have a stuffed animal at their desks to identify themselves so we can communicate effectively.” ICS must be communicating well. Since Blake and his partner Travis Hayes bought the company in 2005, employment has grown from four to 62 people (48 in Endicott, 14 in Syracuse). The company, which currently occupies 7,000 square feet in its Endicott headquarters and another 4,500 square feet in the Syracuse location, is focused on opening a third office in Elmira by the first quarter of 2016. The company is exploring buying an existing business with similar products/ services and corporate philosophy, as well as the alternative of creating the new office de novo. Blake is also looking to buy or lease between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet in Endicott to provide adequate space for the company’s explosive growth. His goal is to occupy the new space by year-end. STBJ estimates that ICS will generate revenue of $8.5 million this year, based on 20 percent growth in Endicott and 25 percent to 28 percent growth in Syracuse. All of the revenue growth in the past five years has been organic. Blake and Hayes are the sole stockholders in the operating company and are shareholders in several other ventures.

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ICS Solutions Group runs like a gazelle

ICS Solutions Group president Kevin Blake oversees business development and management at the Endicott–based company.

Change in strategy

“When Travis and I bought the business, we inherited a reactive business model,” recalls Blake. “A customer’s hardware broke, and we fixed it. We changed the model to be proactive and set up a maintenancemonitoring program that would minimize a customer’s downtime. Today, ICS does a lot more than repair hardware. [Our menu of services includes] … IT-managed services, telephony, cyber-security, project design and implementation, business continuity and disaster recovery, helpdesk services, virtualization, and IP security cameras and access control. Our sweet spot is small- and midsized businesses with 20-100 employees on the company network. We serve a number of markets, including health care, dental, insurance, accounting, professional services, auto dealerships, manufacturing, convenience stores, financial, legal, and nonprofit. “The company’s geographical reach has also expanded. A decade ago we focused on the … [Triple Cities]; today, ICS services 19 counties of Upstate and three across the border in Pennsylvania.” In an Aug. 10 research list in The Central New York Business Journal, entitled “Computer/IT Consultants” in Central New York, ICS Solutions Group was listed as the largest. The ranking was determined by the number of IT consultants on staff. How does ICS sustain its rapid growth? “There are four things that make us successful,” Blake says. “First, we are customer-oriented. That means we listen to our customers, and we respond quickly. We also anticipate their needs and offer a one-stop shop to solve their problems. For many companies which don’t have technologists on staff, we act as the chief technology officer. The customer, then, can rely on our company to assume the responsibility to keep the network and IT systems running. “Second, Travis and I spend a lot of time working with our employees and motivating them to make a difference,” continues the company president. “We stress Dr. Little’s model of not only communicating internally with staff but also communicating with our customers. Many who are very skilled technicians are not comfortable communicating with the customers. Finding qualified technicians who can also communicate is the biggest challenge in sustaining our growth. Finding the best talent and ensuring a low

turnover rate through job satisfaction requires a full-court press.” The third key to success involved ICS joining a group called HTG (Heartland Technology Group). “We joined HTG because it was comprised of a national peer group of similar size technology-support companies. The group of 12 businesses meets quarterly to share best business practices, solve common problems, and anticipate customer needs. It’s like having a board of directors. HTG has helped us capitalize on successful strategies and avoid costly mistakes. “Fourth, everyone has bought into the corporate culture,” observes Blake. “There are three principles we subscribe to: family, integrity, and loyalty. These aren’t principles made up by management: the entire staff considered a variety of options and collectively chose these three. The key is to live the values.”

The partners

Blake and Hayes divide their functions at ICS. The former focuses on business development and management while the latter focuses on the technology side. To keep up with the rapid company growth, ICS hired Joseph Williamson in December 2014 to manage the Syracuse office. Also in 2014, ICS hired Robert LaFave as the COO, allowing Hayes to devote full time to overseeing the technology. ICS also depends on key professional advisers to support the company: M&T Bank for financial services, Salvatore R. Peretore, CPA (Endicott) as the company’s accounting firm, and John G. Dowd (Binghamton) for legal matters. Blake, 42, is a 1992 Maine-Endwell High School graduate who started working at ComputerLand in Binghamton in 1990. He graduated SUNY Oswego in 1996 with a degree in business and joined ICS two days after graduation. Hayes, 41, graduated from Alexandria Central High School in Jefferson County. He met Blake at SUNY Oswego where the two were classmates. Hayes majored in political science and history. After graduation, Hayes worked at Eastman Kodak in Rochester before joining ICS in 1999. ICS is well-positioned to continue running like a gazelle: The markets it serves are all projected to enjoy substantial, longterm growth. The International Association SEE ICS, PAGE 9


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SEPTEMBER 21, 2015 I SOUTHERN TIER BUSINESS JOURNAL

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Photo credit: Snug Planet, LLC

James Dulle, an energy technician at Snug Planet, LLC in Enfield, handles a sidewall insulation job.

Making Homes Snug Snug Planet works to make homes more energy efficient BY ERIC REINHARDT ereinhardt@tgbbj.com ENFIELD — Snug Planet, LLC — an energy-efficiency company based in Enfield, west of Ithaca — grew its revenue 40 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year. “We had years of slow, incremental growth and [it] was just a really big year,” says Jon Harrod, who co-owns Snug Planet, along with his wife, Elisabeth. The firm projects 20 percent revenue growth in 2015. Harrod spoke with STBJ on Sept. 3. Before 2014, Snug Planet had more demand for its services than it had capacity to deliver the services, he noted. Harrod says the company made a “big” investment in systems for its sales, production, training, and equipment “so that we had more capacity and so we could take on more and bigger jobs.” The firm’s customer base “is more than 90 percent residential,” he adds. Snug Planet can handle home-performance assessments, or what are known as energy audits, and any improvements to increase energy efficiency. The improvements could include installation of insulation, storm windows, ventilation, or air sealing and weatherstripping, according to the company’s website.

Snug Planet also handles the contracting work for any improvements on a given home. It can tackle “most” jobs, including insulation, air sealing, and moisture-control measures, Harrod says. If the job involves improvements to a home’s heating system, then Snug Planet will subcontract the work to “a couple trusted partners,” which Harrod declined to name. “Typically, people who call us have some combination of high energy bills, comfort problems like drafts, or rooms that they can’t keep warm,” says Harrod. The firm is located in a 4,000-square-foot space at 1730 Mecklenburg Road in Enfield. John Rancich is their landlord, according to Harrod. Harrod launched the business in 2006. Snug Planet employs 12 full-time workers, including Harrod, and four part-time employees.

About the company

Snug Planet seeks to reduce a building’s energy usage and “improve people’s comfort in ways that make sense for customers and also for the planet,” says Harrod. The company has what some people refer to as a “triple bottom line guiding” the business. “We want to do right by people, by the

planet, and, at the same time, run a profitable business,” says Harrod. The Malta, New York–based Building Performance Institute Inc. (BPI) has certified Snug Planet as a building analyst and accredited the firm as a contractor, according to the Snug Planet website. The firm is “certified to conduct blowerdoor tests, combustion-appliance inspection and repair, air quality testing including carbon-monoxide detection, duct testing and airflow testing in addition to our other contracting services,” its website says. Harrod describes a blower-door test as a “big fan” that Snug Planet connects to a house’s door. It “depressurizes” the house, enabling Snug Planet “to go around and find where air leaks are happening.” BPI “develops standards for energy efficiency retrofit work using an open, transparent, consensus-based process built on sound building science,” its website explains. Snug Planet is also a partner in the Energy Star program. Energy Star is a joint, voluntary program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy that “helps businesses and individuals save energy and fight climate change through energy efficient products, homes, and buildings,” according to the Energy Star website.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is a partner with the EPA with its Home Performance with Energy Star and other related programs, according to NYSERDA. Most New York homeowners can get a free home-energy assessment and a low-interest loan to help pay for any work to make improvements for better energy efficiency, NYSERDA says.

About Jon Harrod

Harrod, a New Jersey native, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard University in 1993. He later earned his doctorate of philosophy in ecology at the University of North Carolina in 1999. From there, Harrod served as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard through the end of 2000, he says. The Harrods then moved to Ithaca where Jon Harrod started working for Performance Systems Development between 2001 and 2006. The Ithaca–based firm “specializes in translating building science expertise into powerful software tools and innovative program services for energy service professionals, building performance contractors, commercial property owners, and program implementers,” according to its LinkedIn page. n


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BY NICK KAPTEYN nkapteyn@tgbbj.com ENFIELD — Construction on the Black Oak Wind Farm, a seven-turbine project about 10 miles west of Ithaca in the town of Enfield, is expected to begin this fall, nearly 10 years after the project was first envisioned. Black Oak Wind Farm is a for-profit company owned by 150 investors, about half of whom are accredited, according to project manager Marguerite Wells. She is also the VP on its board of directors, and one of the project’s investors. All but six of the investors are New York state residents — those six are family and close friends of other investors, according to Wells. About 100 of the investors live in Tompkins County. “This is the first example I know of [in New York] where people came together and said, ‘we actually want a wind farm and we’re going to build it ourselves,’ ” rather than having an outside developer making a pitch to a town, Wells says. She is awaiting approval for building permits she applied for on Sept. 4. The first construction will focus on the installation of the wind farm’s substation, Wells says, where it will interconnect with the existing power grid owned by utility company New York State Electric & Gas Corporation (or NYSEG). Installation of the seven turbines should begin in the summer of 2016, and the wind farm is expected to be operational later in the year. The total cost of the farm — which will be situated on about 1,000 acres of land off Black Oak Road in Enfield — should be between $40 million and $45 million, and will be financed through a combination of private equity, tax equity, and bank debt, says Wells. She has raised $3 million in investment capital over the past four years, and is working to finalize a financing package in the coming weeks that will provide the rest of the capital. She declines to disclose terms, or identify the bank. Four land owners are leasing the acreage to the wind farm, she adds. General Electric (NYSE: GE) designs and sells the turbine model to be constructed at the site. It has a 2.3-megawatt capacity, giving the farm a maximum capacity of 16.1 megawatts, according to the Black Oak website. Each turbine will stand 483 feet tall where the tip of a blade reaches its highest point, and the base of the turbine is about 15 feet in diameter. GE will handle the operation and maintenance of the turbines once they are assembled. Those services come with the purchase of the turbines, according to Wells. She anticipates the wind farm will have a 32 percent net capacity factor, which is the farm’s average rate of output at any given time over an entire year, factoring in periods when there is less wind. That output would provide enough electricity to power about 5,000 local households, according to Wells. The company has a power-purchasing agreement in place with Cornell University. Wells declines to disclose the price, but says it “escalates at a fixed percentage year-to-year.” Black Oak Wind Farm is working on the short list of bids for the construction contract, Wells says. About $500,000 has been spent on the environmental impact statement, most of which went to New York–based firms.

commercial-grade turbine nearby, according to Wells. Rancich found a good location about a mile from his house — the site where Black Oak Wind Farm will be built — with plenty of wind, open space, and a transmission line going across it. “Those are sort of the bare bones of what you need to get started,” says Wells, who joined the project eight years ago when she approached Rancich, asking how she could help. Her role quickly escalated to that of project manager, and for four years she devoted time to the farm’s development while Rancich financed it through the company he had started, called Enfield Energy.

Neither person had any prior experience in wind energy, other than the unsuccessful small turbine with which Rancich had experimented. “It was just a question of learning it and figuring it out and doing it,” Wells says. In 2011, Wells bought out Rancich when he no longer had the assets to fund the project, and founded Black Oak Wind Farm. However, Rancich remains an investor in the project, Wells says. “It was going to die if I didn’t come up with a new plan,” Wells says. “We had tried shopping it around to big wind developers, and nobody wanted a seven-turbine project. It’s just too small for most of the developers to be interested in.”

Visual projection of a portion of the Black Oak Wind Farm upon its completion.

RENDERING CREDIT: BLACKOAKWINDNY.COM

Community-owned wind farm nears construction west of Ithaca

Near the beginning of the project’s introduction, the town was asked if it would like to own the farm, and it declined due to the finanSEE BLACK OAK, PAGE 10

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Project history

The seeds for Black Oak Wind Farm were first planted about 10 years ago when Wells’ neighbor, John Rancich, put up a small wind turbine on his property that underperformed. He began exploring the idea of building a

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BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@tgbbj.com ITHACA/DRYDEN — “Coltivare” is the Italian word for cultivate. It’s also the name adopted by the bistro/restaurant that opened in December 2014 in downtown Ithaca featuring the growing “farm-to-table” trend of producing food locally. Coltivare is just one part of an innovative concept recently developed by Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) in Dryden. Dubbed “Farm-to-Bistro,” the program is designed to give students hands-on experience in every aspect of the food-production system. In addition to the bistro, the program has an organic farm adjacent to campus, which produces fresh, local produce for the Coltivare restaurant, and integrates both the farm and bistro into four degree programs offered by TC3.

Curriculum

“Students can earn an associate degree in culinary arts, sustainable farming and food systems, wine marketing, and hotel and restaurant management (HRMG),” says Susan Stafford, TC3’s chair of culinary arts and hotel and restaurant management. “Enrollment this past year in HRMG was between 50 and 60 students with another 60 in culinary arts. We enjoy a mix of traditional and non-traditional students attracted by growing industries in

food service, travel and tourism, and meetings/conventions. There are very few community colleges in the country that have our comprehensive, global program, with an option of spending 10 weeks in Italy. We also see students taking advantage of the multiple courses the college offers with some coming back for second degrees. The HRMG and culinary-arts curricula are comprehensive and include everything from food-preparation/ service, sanitation, room-management, hospitality law, marketing, and cost-control to food preparation and systems, restaurant operations, and the basics of running a business. The college also has an exemption from New York State, which allows underage students to taste adult beverages as part of their course work. That helps to make the program sexy for our traditional students (those who typically go on to a four-year college).” Brandon Seager, chair of the wine-marketing program at TC3, just completed the first year of his new degree program. “We had 20 students in the wine-marketing class, of whom 75 percent were non-traditional students,” he says. “The non-traditional students are focused on employment immediately after graduation. What they are pleasantly surprised to learn is the variety of meaningful jobs in areas as diverse as winery management, sales and distribution, corporate marketing, hospitality management on cruise ships and in casinos, and even writing. In addition to the associate

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TC3 cooks up new venture: Farm-to-Bistro

Todd McLane, the director of the TC3 Farm, stands in one of four structures built to grow vegetables year-round. The farm is part of the sustainable-farming program that offers an associate degree.

degree, this program also offers a 25-credit certificate in wine marketing, some of which is offered online. The degree program includes an introduction to the hospitality industry, a survey of wine and alcoholic beverages, grape-growing and the wine business, wine and food pairing, marketing and merchandising, accounting, and hospitality law. The curriculum also includes exposure to beverages other than wine, such as beers and ciders. An important part of the four degree programs is the emphasis on internships, which not only offer valuable experience but also lead to job placement after graduation.”

TC3 Farm

Todd McLane, director of the TC3 Farm, joined the community college in February 2014 and launched the sustainable-farming course in September. “The farm (TC3 Farm, LLC) is located on the north edge of the campus and includes about 50 acres we can use,” says McLane. “Currently, we have about four acres in production for growing vegetables year-round, utilizing a greenhouse and three hoop houses, which comprise about 7,000 [square] feet. There is also a heated 7,000-foot barn, which houses a classroom and offices. Our plans include adding an orchard … The barn already has stalls to keep farm animals. All of our produce is grown using organic practices, and the farm is in the process of moving off the [electric] grid by relying only on solar, wind, and geothermal energy.” The curriculum is comprehensive. “We explore the history of agriculture; the growth of the current global, industrial food system; a movement toward a sustainable and resilient food supply; soil science and fertility management; and pest management. All students are required to take a summer session that’s all about getting down and dirty,” says McLane. “The farm is set up as an independent business which is owned by the [TC3] Foundation,” the farm director adds. “The goal is to be self-sufficient and to operate financially without depending on support from TC3. In year one, the program hosted 15 students. While their backgrounds were diverse, they all seemed to share a passion for local food and sustainable agriculture … The farm works closely with Coltivare to determine what to plant, but we also sell our produce to other customers, such as the TC3 cafeteria and CSA (community-supported agriculture) program … The farm is a learning place that should serve everybody on campus. It’s open to all classes to utilize, whether biology, ecology, or even photography.”

Coltivare

“The Coltivare Culinary Center supports the educational mission of farm-to-bistro,” affirms Denis Boucher, director of the center (restaurant). “This restaurant provides a realworld experience for the students, as well as an event space and a tasting room. The students prepare fresh, hand-crafted foods, while learning all aspects of a restaurant enterprise: meal planning and preparation, professionalservice techniques, and food and wine pairing. The facility has state-of-the-art teaching labs and a cellar stocked with a selection of international wines. The bistro also features 30 Finger Lakes wines by the glass and 16 local beers on tap. In the summer, we buy 90 percent of our food locally and in the winter about 50 percent. Coltivare only serves foods that are fresh, local, and hand-crafted: You won’t find anything that is processed. Local products, global flavors — that’s our theme.” While the goal is to educate students, Coltivare, like the farm, is run as a business and expected to generate a surplus, which goes back to the TC3 Foundation. “The restaurant is incorporated as TC3 Bistro, LLC (d/b/a Coltivare),” emphasizes Boucher, “and is owned by the foundation. We lease 17,300 square feet here from Bloomfield/Schon + Partners, developers from Cincinnati who have been active in Ithaca since 2008. The bookkeeping is a little tricky since 70 percent of the revenue and expenses are allocated to education while the remainder is allocated to the business side.” Ramsgard Architectural Design, P.C. of Skaneateles designed the restaurant, and Turnbull–Wahlert Construction, Inc. of Cincinnati completed the build-out. Coltivare retained a national consultant to help develop the bistro concept. “Our original idea was to create a Northern Italian menu,” recalls Boucher, “but modified it to an ‘American’ cuisine that is really international. Initially, we also targeted area residents who were 25 to 40 years old as our primary audience, but adjusted that after the restaurant opened. Our focus now is on those who are in the 30 to 60 [age range]. The Coltivare concept also treats the staff in the European tradition by paying our employees a comparatively high wage and offering benefits, including health care, a 401(k) retirement package, vacation, and sick time. The idea is that working at the restaurant is a career, not just a job. Our policy has attracted an excellent staff with low turnover, but it also presents us with a pricing challenge.” See COLTIVARE, page 10

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september 21, 2015 I southern tier business journal

People on the Move NEWS a personal financial associate with First Niagara Bank and financial advisor for Merrill Lynch in the greater Ithaca area. Perri is a graduate of Davis College.

accounting Davidson Fox & Company has promoted TERA A. STANTON to partner. She joined the Binghamton– based accounting firm in 2006. Stanton is a graduate of SUNY Oneonta and a CPA.

energy

Stanton

banking & finance NBT Bank has promoted Corporate Controller ANNETTE BURNS to senior VP. She has 21 years experience in the financial-services industry. Prior to joining NBT Bank, Burns was VP of Burns financial reporting and accounting policy at Alliance Bank in Syracuse. Previously, she held other positions in finance, including CFO at WCNY in Liverpool, controller at Pathfinder Bank in Oswego, and business assurance manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, in Syracuse. Burns has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from St. Bonaventure University and is a CPA. Tioga State Bank and Tioga State Investment Services have added PETER PERRI, JR. to the investment services team as a financial advisor. He has several years experience in financial servicPerri es. Perri was previously

JUSTIN FISHER has been promoted to executive vice president of fuel pricing and supply at Mirabito Energy Products. He joined Mirabito in 2010 as a plan administrator in the natural gas and electricity division, went on to become the division manager, and most recently served as the VP of pricing and supply. Fisher earned a degree in chemistry from Ithaca College; a master’s degree in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2008; and an MBA, also from UMass.

financial services NBT Financial Services has hired JAMISON DAVIS as a financial consultant. He previously was a partner at Prudent Life Agency, Inc. His prior jobs also include positions with Thrivent Financial in Davis Syracuse, Citizens Bank in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Insight Financial Group, also in Ann Arbor. Davis earned his bachelor’s degree at Eastern Michigan University.

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manager of customer service at Preferred Mutual Insurance Company. She joined the company in May 2014 as a customer-ser vice super visor. Benson has more than 24 years customer-service experience. She previously served as an operations supervisor and quality assurance team manager for another regional carrier. Benson attended SUNY Morrisville. DANIEL BERRYANN has joined Preferred Mutual as a senior internal auditor. Prior to this, he worked for Capital District Physicians Health Plan (or CDPHP) as a senior internal auditor, and for PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP as a senior associate. Berryann attended Syracuse University, and holds the CPA and CIA accreditations. SHELLY DIBENEDETTO has joined the company as a claims counsel. Prior to this, she was a litigation trial attorney with the law firm Costello, Cooney

insurance

of individual employment plans. (CDO is a consortium of state and local agencies serving Chenango, Delaware, and Otsego counties.) Of course, the employees are eligible for unemployment-insurance payments.”

Background

Craig grew up in Jamestown and attended Harpur College (now Binghamton University). He spent 35 years as a broadcast journalist in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida before joining Commerce Chenango four years ago. Craig also serves as the county’s designee to the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council and sits on the board of the Southern Tier Region Economic Development Corp. Palmatier was born in Binghamton and

of Managed Service Providers reported on April 1 that the North American market generated $154 billion in revenue in 2014. According to a 2015 report by Deloitte & Touche, the traditional telecommunications sector is rapidly becoming more of an “interconnected ecosystem.” This offers

Continued from page 3

Continued from page 4

new opportunities as well as an increasing demand for cyber-security and privacy solutions. Transparency Market Research reports that the video-surveillance market in the U.S. alone will grow at a 32 percent rate between now and 2020, when it will top $16 billion. n

Berryann

DiBenedetto

Sullivan

MIKE SHOTWELL has joined Finger Lakes Technologies Group, Inc. (FLTG) as an OSP engineer apprentice in its Binghamton office. He comes to FLTG from E.E. Root LLC where he was Shotwell project support and estimator. KAREN POTTER has joined as a CLEC customer-service representative in the Binghamton office. She has more than 20 years experience in the telecommunications industry. Potter comes Potter to FLTG from Verizon Wireless, where she was a customer-service representative and government account executive. n

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graduated high school in 1974. He attended Verrazano College and subsequently owned and operated Gilbert Machine and Tool from 1975-2006, an aerospace machining, fabrication, and assembly shop. Gilbert, which was located in Greene, employed 50. Palmatier also has expertise in natural-gas development with a focus on best-practices for the industry and for localities. Commerce Chenango is optimistic that déjà vu will turn out as well in 2015 as it did in 1983. Craig and Palmatier are relying on two other Yogi aphorisms: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you may not get there;” and “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Both have a map of where they are going, and when they come to a fork in the road, they will be sure to take the right one. n

ICS: The firm is well-positioned to keep running like a gazelle

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NORWICH AERO: Craig and Palmatier are actively marketing the package

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& Fearon, PLLC. DiBenedetto graduated from Syracuse University College of Law. WENDY SULLIVAN has joined Preferred Mutual as an associate auto physical-damage claims representative. She previously worked for a national insurance carrier for nearly four years. Sullivan earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from SUNY Brockport. DEVON ZALLA has joined the company as a human-resources specialist. She brings more than nine years of HR experience to Preferred, having served in generalist and analyst positions. Zalla attended SUNY Oswego.

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SOUTHERN TIER BUSINESS JOURNAL I SEPTEMBER 21, 2015

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BLACK OAK: In 2011, Wells bought out Rancich and founded Black Oak cial risk and complexity involved, Wells notes.

Finding its footing

In her pursuit of a viable option to keep the wind farm alive, Wells says she discovered a seven-turbine farm in South Dakota that is owned by about 600 South Dakota residents. “It was a neat community-ownership model, and they got it done,” she says. Wells reached out to South Dakota–based firm Val-Add Service Corporation, which had assisted in the development of that wind farm, and hired it as a consultant on her own. “They gave me a road map on how to raise community money, because I had no idea how any of that worked,” she says. Wells proceeded to raise $2 million in development capital, which she says was used to move forward several elements of

the project, such as attaining the power purchasing agreement with Cornell University, the environmental work for the environmental-impact assessment, the interconnection process needed to tie into the electric grid, attaining a contract with GE for the turbines, as well as a contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (or NYSERDA) for renewable energy credits. Wells raised another $1 million in 2014 in construction capital to begin paying for critical infrastructure that needed to be ordered, like an electrical transformer. All $3 million she has raised came from community investors. None of the project cost will be covered through financial incentives from any level of government, says Wells. “The incentives

come when you generate [power].” Black Oak Wind Farm has forged a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement with the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (TCIDA) for the land on which the farm will be built. Wells says the flat-rate, 15year PILOT requires the wind farm pay $8,300 per year for every megawatt installed, which equals about $130,000 annually.

From plants to power

Wells used to co-own a wholesale plant nursery called Mother Plants with her wife that specialized in green roofs. “We supplied almost every green roof in Syracuse, and about half of them in Rochester,” as well as projects in New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, Wells says. She originally expected to return to the

Continued from page 7

nursery business after the wind farm was completed, but Wells says she is having too much fun, and she doesn’t want to go back and let die the eight years she has invested in education for the wind farm. “I want more projects,” she says. This spring, the couple sold Mother Plants to a Canada–based company, and the business now operates from Ontario under the same name. “We still have a small amount of nursery left, but the majority of our business is downsized because we just didn’t have time, frankly,” Wells says. The remaining nursery is now called Two Mothers Farm, Inc., and offers soil for green roofs, interior living walls, and consulting services for horticultural projects, according to its website. n

COLTIVARE: According to Haynes, the idea of creating farm-to-bistro was serendipitous Boucher says his first year’s revenue budget is about $2 million. The Coltivare staff is comprised of 60 employees, or 43 full-time equivalents.

Funding

Carl E. Haynes, president of Tompkins Cortland Community College, says funding the project was a challenge. “We needed to raise $7 million: approximately $2 million for the farm and $5 million for the culinary center. The first step was to acquire 67 acres of land that we could add to 25 acres previously acquired by the foundation. The foundation bought the 67-acre property for $270,000. Next, TC3 applied for a $1.3 million grant through the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council. We understood that possible funding would be limited to $1.3 million and applied for Empire State Development funds and Market New York tourism-development grant funds, hoping that between them we would realize the amount requested. We were delighted when we not only were awarded a $1.3 million grant from Market New York, but even more delighted and surprised when we received an additional grant of $1 million from Empire State Development.” With $2.3 million promised from the state, Haynes sought out the college’s most generous donor. “Arthur Kuckes is the owner of Vector Magnetics and an Ithaca resident who has donated $11.5 million to the college to fund the Pathway’s Scholarship Program,” Haynes says. “His scholarships offer up to $7,000 to non-traditional students to encourage them to complete their education in order to be eligible for better career opportunities. In 2013, I asked Arthur to consider contributing to the proposed Farm-to-Bistro concept. He responded with a check for $2 million. Now that I had $4.3 million, I went to three bankers on our foundation board of directors and convinced them to loan the foundation the difference and to provide a bridge loan until New York State reimburses us from the allocated grant money.”

Serendipity

According to Haynes, the idea of creating farm-to-bistro was serendipitous. “In the summer of 2011, I was invited to a dinner that was the culmination of a course entitled ‘sustainable farming and local food systems.’ The course was offered by TC3 in collaboration with the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming and hosted by the West Haven Farm. One of the presenters was Todd

McLane, who was then working at West Haven, an organic farm in Ithaca. During informal conversations, someone asked the question: Why not create an entire program that teaches not just sustainable farming Stafford but also follows the culinary process to the table? A short time later, I traveled to Kirkwood Community College (in Iowa) to attend a conference. The college had just built a hotel on campus, which also included a culinary center. Kirkwood had developed a culinary program built around the restaurant.” The two events propelled Haynes to consider establishing an associate degree program at TC3. There was no consideration of building a hotel on campus, but he next asked the faculty to develop the curricula. The TC3 Foundation’s purchase of the 67 acres made the farm site an easy choice, but it took some time to identify the ideal location for the restaurant and to raise money to support the concept. In 2012, Haynes ordered a feasibility study for Coltivare. The idea that the farm and restaurant would be financially self-sustaining was determined at the outset. Haynes also reached out to key industry leaders to be strategic partners. “While applying for the [state] grant, I began looking not just for donors but also for partners who could help us develop the program,” recalls the TC3 president. “The executive chef at the Ithaca Wegmans [supermarket] was a member of the college’s advisory board. We asked for the company’s help, especially since Danny Wegman had established an organic farm on Canandaigua Lake to teach area farmers how to transition to organic farming. TC3 even modeled [its] farm after Wegmans’ organic farm. The partnership has led to a generous donation from the supermarket chain as well as internships and jobs at Wegmans in areas such as food distribution and wine marketing.”

Industry forecast

The farm-to-bistro program came on line just as economists are forecasting a rosy food industry. Restaurant industry sales are expected to hit record levels in 2015, according to the National Restaurant Association, topping $709 billion. The industry employs 14 million people in 1 million locations, serving as the nation’s second-largest, private-sector employer. The association projects that restaurants will add another 1.7 million employees in the next decade. It also notes that customers

are increasingly interested in locally sourced food items and healthful menu options. IBIS, an industry research firm, also notes that tourism in the U.S. is “… [t]aking off, after the turbulent recession.” The Seager industry, which employs approximately 6 million people and generates sales of $1 trillion, has enjoyed, on average, 4.3 percent annual growth over the past five years. The food industry has also grown at an average 3 percent annual rate since 2000. The organic food market, on the other hand, has grown by 14 percent annually during the same period and now tops $30 billion in annual U.S. sales.

Playmakers

Stafford was raised on a 200-acre dairy farm in Central New York. A graduate of Niagara University’s Hospitality Program, she has spent 40 years in the industry, including about five years with Conde Nast Publications in the London office and 15 years as a VP for the hotel-recruitment division of Hospitality International. Prior to those positions, Stafford worked in operations and sales with Interstate Hotels (Marriott), Holiday Inn, and Hilton and had conference-services experience with Travel Trade Publications and Bonnie Walsh Associates. She joined TC3 in 2003 and became the chair of the program in 2010. As a department chair, she teaches hospitalitymanagement, develops curriculum, garners regional and global educational partnerships, and provides industry outreach. Seager began his college education in mechanical engineering, before the wine bug bit him. He earned a graduate degree at Cornell University in enology and viticulture. After graduating, he worked as a “cellar rat” at a Finger Lakes winery before advancing to cellar master, assistant winemaker, and winemaker. Seager joined TC3 in the fall of 2013. McLane hails from central New Jersey and graduated from SUNY Albany with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology. Smitten by the concept of organic farming, he worked as the manager at West Haven Farm from 2005 until February 2014, at which time he joined TC3. He has also served as a farmereducator at the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming since 2009. Boucher grew up in Sanford, Maine and developed his appreciation for cooking from his mother. He worked in a restaurant while in high school and attended the Culinary

Continued from page 8

Institute of America. After that, Boucher worked the next 15 years as a chef in Atlanta, Colorado, and Miami. His career then took him to the South Pole as the chef for two research centers. He continued his education at Florida International University in Miami and accepted the position of food-and-beverage manager at the Biltmore Hotel. Subsequently, Boucher’s career included owning a restaurant and teaching at the New England Culinary Institute. He started in his current position in April 2014. Haynes earned his bachelor’s degree in business from the Rochester Institute of Technology, a master of science and an MBA from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. He joined TC3 in 1969 as a member of the business faculty. Haynes subsequently held positions at TC3 as the director of the development center for business, a division head, and dean of administration. He was named interim president in 1994 and appointed as the college’s third president in 1995. He currently serves on several area boards, including Tompkins County Area Development Corp., Cayuga Cortland Workforce Investment Board, and the Tompkins County Workforce Investment Board.

Ramping up

The farm-to-bistro concept has ramped up quickly. “In 2012, this department had one employee — yours truly,” quips Stafford. The college has just hired a full-time faculty member for the culinary-arts program who will begin in the fall of 2015. “Today, there are approximately 70 who are part of a unique program that is very popular with our students. (The TC3 Foundation board of directors formed two corporations: TC3 Farm, LLC and TC3 Bistro.) Currently, we are attracting mostly local enrollees, but our goal is to reach out geographically to a broader audience,” Stafford says. “Our challenge is to market the program aggressively both to traditional and non-traditional students. We have a lot to sell — In addition to diverse yet integrated curricula, we offer national and global industry relationships. That really sets us apart, as does Coltivare with its state-of-theart facility.” Farm-to-table, farm-to-bistro — whatever you call it — TC3 has cooked up an exciting venture that is grabbing the public’s attention, not just for its academic program but also for its entrepreneurial concept. It is also enjoying fortuitous timing in riding a national wave of interest in fresh, handcrafted meals that are creative and healthful. n


I 11

september 21, 2015 I southern tier business journal

tgbbj.com

THE LIST Research by Vance Marriner vmarriner@tgbbj.com (315) 579-3911 Twitter: @cnybjresearch

SOUTHERN TIER LARGEST EMPLOYERS Ranked by Number of Southern Tier FT Employees Rank

1. 2.

Annual Unemployment Rate Trend in the Southern Tier Region* • 2014: 6.1% • 2013: 7.4% • 2012: 8.3% • 2011: 8.1% • 2010: 8.4% *New York State Department of Labor defines Southern Tier Region as Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins Counties. Source: New York State Department of Labor, Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. . 9. 10. 11. . 13.

NOTES

14.

1. Revenue reported in British Pounds converted to U.S. dollars using 2014 average exchange rate.

15.

ABOUT THE LIST

16.

Information was provided by representatives of listed organizations and their websites. Other groups may have been eligible but did not respond to our requests for information. Organizations had to complete the survey by the deadline to be included on the list. While The Business Journal strives to print accurate information, it is not possible to independently verify all data submitted. We reserve the right to edit entries or delete categories for space considerations.

17.

What constitutes the Southern Tier Region?

20.

For this list, Southern Tier includes Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Tioga, and Tompkins counties.

21.

Need a copy of a list? Electronic versions of all of our lists, with additional fields of information and survey contacts, are available for purchase at our website: cnybj.com/ListResearch.aspx

Want to be on the list? If your company would like to be considered for next year’s list, or another list, please email: vmarriner@tgbbj.com

18. 19.

22. 23. . 25.

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12 I

southern tier business journal I september 21, 2015

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