JOHNSTOWN – For S.W. Skin Care Cosmetics, a $15,000 Microenterprise Grant to purchase new equipment has led to a plan to double the size of the business.
Sherry Wieszchowski, co-owner of S.W. Skin Care, said her company, which currently employs eight part-time workers, is planning to move from its 1,500 square foot location on Briggs Street to a new 3,000 square foot facility she and her husband recently purchased at 23 Fremont St., Gloversville. She said she hopes to have her business moved by June 1.
“I think the grant played a part in our making this move because we knew to afford this we were going to need to offer some more expensive services, so definitely the grant played a part in our decision,” she said.
Wieszchowski said she used the Microenterprise Grant to purchase LED Photo-Rejuvination equipment, a wet/dry microderm abrasion machine and a microcurrent facelift machine.
“We’re adding new services. We are adding the photo reguvenation facial and the wet/dry microdermabrasian facial and the capability to add more mico current machine non-surgical facelifts, which is becoming a very popular item,” Wieszchowski said.
The Microenterprise Grant program is funded through federal Community Development Block Grant funding given out to communities in New York state by the state Office of Community Renewal. The grant is administered locally by the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth.
CRG President and Chief Executive Officer Ron Peters said there were nine local small businesses that received grants ranging from the program ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 for 2015. Peters said there were 11 applicants that applied for the grant funding.
“When we gave a presentation on this in the spring we expected only about 10 or so companies would show up, we had 28,”?he said.
To be eligible for the Microenterprise Grant program businesses must have five or fewer full-time-equivalent employees.
Wieszchowski said, under the rules of the grant program, her eight part-time employees counted as four full-time employees, making her eligible to apply.
To qualify for a Microenterprise Grant companies were required to attend a mandatory four nights of three-hour training sessions focused on general business accounting, taxes, finance, marketing and e-commerce and the development of a business plan.
“There are so many businesses that have never done that before – they actually walked away with a completed business plan,” Peters said.
L&L Embroidery, located at 113 Hales Mills Road Ext., Johnstown, is another company that received one of the Microenterprise grants. L&L Embroidery owner John Brandt said the company received a $25,000 grant, which he used to help purchase a $69,000 eight-head embroidery machine, an upgrade from the company’s six-head embroidery machine. Brandt said the new equipment has allowed his company to increase production of contract embroidery work.
“This has been great for us, it’s increased our capacity. We used to things six at a time, now I’m doing things eight at a time,” he said.
Brandt said, under the requirements of the Microenterprise Grant program, he has to create two full-time jobs within two years of receiving the grant in order to keep the money. He said he’s already created the jobs, increasing his staff from three employees to six.
Wieszchowski said S.W. Skin Care will create at least one full time job when it moves to Gloversville and possibly a few more part-time jobs.
Peters said under the rules of the program grants are given out in increments of $5,000, $15,000 and $25,000. He said recipients of the $15,000 grants are required to create one full-time job within two years of receiving the grant and companies receiving the $25,000 amounts must create two jobs within two years. He said the CRG could take back some of the grant if companies are unable to create the jobs, but he said he has discretion as to whether that happens.
“We’ll sit down with the companies and see why the jobs weren’t created and see how we can help them create those jobs,” Peters said.
A full list of the rules for the Microenterprise Grant program is available on the CRG website at fccrg.org/financing-a-business/cdbg-microenterprise-grant-program.
Peters said the CRG plans to apply to receive another $200,000 Microenterprise Grant fund for 2016 and will find out in December if the money is awarded. He said six companies have already expressed interest in applying for the grants in 2016.