Building the North Country Economy

Sarah O’Connell

The American economy has changed greatly over the last half century, and we’ve seen a lot of those changes right here in the north country.  Most of our paper manufacturers have closed down, national chains have changed the faces of our downtowns and our many small dairy farms have merged into just a handful of large agricultural enterprises.   Our largest employers now are the military, the hospitals, the various levels of government and educational facilities.

                So what happens when someone doesn’t fit into one of those types of businesses?  Maybe they decide to start their own business.   Every year we at the Watertown SBDC talk to around 700 would-be entrepreneurs.  Of those, many just want to kick around an idea or need some basic assistance with getting the business set up. Others decide to go forward and obtain a startup or expansion loan. 

                Many of the small businesses we work with are what the U.S. Small Business Administration calls “nonemployer” firms, meaning they are a one-person operation with no employees.  We could call them “starter businesses” – usually they are quicker and less costly to start, and also to close.  The median age of a nonemployer business is six years, about four years less than an employer business.

                Furthermore, startups are less likely than established businesses to create jobs, again because during those crucial first five years, the new business may be just struggling to find its place in the market, much less adding employees.  Less than half the jobs created by startups still exist after five years, while expanding, older businesses account for 60 percent of small business job creation.   The share of employment that microbusinesses (those with fewer than 10 employees upon start up) contribute has declined over the past 30 years – from 15% in 1978 to 11.6 per cent in 2011.  (

                With all that being said, small businesses are very important to the local economy.  Besides providing employment for a local resident, new businesses may bring new ideas to the area.  They can provide support services or products that free up larger employers to do what they do best.    Small businesses also generate tax income through self-employment, payroll taxes and sales tax collection.  They can also be more reactive and flexible to market trends. Just look at the rise of the craft beverage industry in our area,  or ethnic restaurants and small niche shops; I think they make our community a more interesting and enjoyable place to live than large metropolitan areas that are just lines of chain store after chain store.  

                How about lawn care providers, plumbers, small contractors, or snow plow operators (shout out here to my guy Mike!)?    Small hardware stores, bakeries, crafters, web designers, our local news sources, and professionals like lawyers, insurance agents and accountants are here to provide us with their goods and services; they know their community and may even be our neighbors.

                So sure, you may find the Internet is quick and easy to search for something, order and pay for it electronically; it might even offer a cheaper deal than what you’d pay locally, and hey! – free shipping!    But at the end of the day, what is that doing to help your local economy?  If you want to support the north country economy, it starts with spending your money right here and creating growth and job creation, one local purchase at a time.

                For fiscal year 2015-16, the advisors at the Watertown SBDC serving Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego counties saw 735 clients, spent 5,174 hours counseling, helped them create 167 new jobs and retain 53 jobs and assisted 51 clients in obtaining financing for business startup or expansion in the amount of $15,166,933.

                The New York Small Business Development Center at JCC offers free, individual, confidential counseling to new or existing business owners in Jefferson and Lewis counties.  For more information, contact 315-782-9262,   St. Lawrence County residents can contact their SBDC at SUNY Canton, 315-386-7312,

SARAH O’CONNELL is a certified business advisor with the New York State Small Business Development Center at Jefferson Community College. She is a former small business owner and lifelong Northern New York resident. Contact her at Her column appears bi-monthly in NNY Business.

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Early snow leads to strong holiday week for Tug Hill businesses

STEPHEN SWOFFORD / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES Snowmobilers took advantage of an extra day off Monday near the Montague Inn. Area businesses catering to snowmobilers say they had a strong holiday week, thanks to all the snow.(Virkler story)


Snowmobilers take advantage of an extra day off Monday near the Montague Inn. Area businesses catering to snowmobilers say they had a strong holiday week thanks to all the snow. Strong business was also reported at the MontagueInn and on-site motel.

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Lowville Academy’s $11m capital project nearing completion, auditorium opening soon

STEVE VIRKLER / JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS Contractors work in the Lowville Academy and Central School auditorium. It is scheduled to reopen after the Christmas break.

Contractors work in the Lowville Academy and Central School auditorium. It is scheduled to reopen after the Christmas break.

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December 2016: Top Transactions

The following property sales were recorded in the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office in October 2016:

$1,169,265: Oct. 3, Town of Watertown: 8 No acreage listed, 339 State St., CNL APF Partners LP c/o GE Capital, Franchise Finance, Scottsdale, Ariz., sold to Carrols LLC, Syracuse.

$1,381,025: Oct. 17, Village of Alexandria Bay: No acreage listed, Steamboat Island, located in the St. Lawrence River between Fairyland Island and Deer Island, Richard B. Sherker Jr., Chalfont, Pa., and Richard B. Sherker III, Doylestown, Pa. as co-trustees of Hilary R. Sherker Family Trust, sold to Michael D. Cregg, trustee of Michael D. Cregg Trust and Barbara A. Cregg, trustee of Barbara A. Cregg Trust, both of Pittsford.

$1,263,447: Oct. 4, City of Watertown: No acreage listed, State Street, Carrols LLC, Syracuse, sold to GW 339 State Street Owner LLC and CW 339 State Street Owner LLC, Brooklyn.

$997,500: Oct. 3, Town of Henderson: 18.315 acres, 4151 Jackson Lane, Dana Keffer, Henderson, sold to Patrick O. Egan and Laurie Egan, East Northport.

$900,000: Oct. 17, Towns of Alexandria and Orleans: Five parcels, no total acreage listed, state Route 12, Emliz Properties LLC, Fulton, sold to Thousand Islands Adventures LLC, Dewitt.

$525,000: Oct. 17, City of Watertown: No acreage listed, Sherman Street at Clinton Street, John Doldo Jr., Watertown, Lewis G. Spicer III and Christa Spicer Matthews as trustees of Lewis G. Spicer Jr. trust, Watertown, sold to Clinton Center Development LLC, Carthage.

$500,000: Oct. 19, Town and Village of Cape Vincent: 424.5 acres more or less, James Street, Cummings Road and Wilson Settlement Road, White Farms LLC, Cape Vincent, sold to HWCB LLC, Clayton.

$456,972: Village of Sackets Harbor: 0.351 acres, Edmund Street at Hill Street, Battlefield Commons LLC, Latham, sold to Daniel P. Talecki and Jamie L. Talecki, Sackets Harbor.

$422,600: Town of Hounsfield: 0.414 acres, Storrs Harbor Road, Marian S. Vecchio, sold to Damian M. Ray, Watertown.

$360,000: Oct. 13, Town of Theresa: 60 acres, state Route 26, Ernest A. Clemente and Jennifer G. Clemente, Theresa, sold to Jerry W. Sauls and Sherry S. Sauls, Wahiawa, Hawaii.


The following property sales were recorded in the St. Lawrence County Clerk’s Office in October 2016:

$900,000: Oct. 6, Town of Hammond: Unknown Parcels, unknown acres, bounded by Oak Hollow Farm, Angus M. MacQueen, Hammond, sold to Stephen and Lucy Hughes, New York.

$230,000: Oct. 6, Village of Massena: 2 Parcels, unknown acres, Lot 2 and Lot 3, Block 310, Matthew J. and Lindsay E. Macaulay, Massena, sold to Marc and Megan Morley, Canton.

$226,600: Oct. 6, Town of Massena: 0.46 of an acre more or less, bounded by Smith Road, Phillip J. and Lynn Ann Treers, Massena, sold to Carrie E. Garrow, Liverpool.

$190,000: Village of Waddington: Parcel 1) 1.81 acres more or less, Parcel 2) 0.60 of an acre more or less, bounded by Lincoln Avenue, Kenneth W. and Tamara K. Ashley, Waddington, sold to Timothy F. Dashnaw and Trina M. LePage, Harrisville.

$181,500: Oct. 4, Town of Morristown: 3.04 acres more or less, bounded by New York State Route 12, Terry Lee Micelli, Morristown, sold to Eric D. and Karen M. Hilbert, Colden.

$175,900: Oct. 6, Town of Lisbon: Parcel 1) 1.211 acres more or less, Parcel 2) Unknown acres, St. Lawrence River Lot 24, bounded by Route 37, James F. and Susan E. Steves, Ogdensburg, sold to Peggy Ann Langtry, Hammond.

$170,000: Oct. 6, Town of Lisbon: 4.45 acres more or less, bounded by Keyes Road, Matthew J. and Jamie L. Stone, Lisbon, sold to James and Marissa Dettmer, Ogdensburg.

$130,000: Oct. 4, Town of Pierrepont: 178.36 acres more or less, bounded by St. Lawrence Turnpike, Amanda S. Lavigne, Vermontville, sold to Gary and Shirley Gollinger, Colton.

$120,000: Oct. 6, Village of Massena: Unknown acres, Lot 26, Block H, Michael J. Zappia, South Colton, and Karen Z. Wilson, Toni Z. Tucker, Kevin A. Zappia, Manlius, sold to Kristan M. and Gabriel LaRamay, Madrid.

$110,750: Oct. 5, Town of Fowler: Parcel 1) 1.05 acres more or less, Parcel 2) 0.243 of an acre more or less, bounded by Doane Road, Larry L. and Kimberly Fuller, Gouverneur, sold to Jeffrey C. Hall and Genny L. Bush, Gouverneur.

NAR releases 2016 buyers profile

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

In November, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the 35th edition of its survey of buyers and sellers. This yearly sampling was based on homes sold between July 2015 and June 2016 and had 5,465 responses.

The median age of all buyers was forty-four and had a gross household income of $88,500. Two-thirds were married, seventeen percent were single females, seven percent were single males, and eight percent were unmarried couples. About a third of all buyers had children at home and fourteen percent owned a second home.

This year’s survey convincingly proved once again that the two most popular resources for buyers remain the internet — 95 percent — and real estate agents — 92 percent. Despite a record high 51 percent of buyers saying they found the home they purchased online, most buyers who used the internet still ended up purchasing their home through an agent — 90 percent.

Of interest to residents in our area, nationally 2 percent of all buyers or their spouses were active duty military and 18 percent were veterans. The active duty buyer is 35 years old, most likely to buy a previously owned home, and half were first-time buyers. Fifty-seven percent rented a house or apartment immediately prior to their home purchase.

Buyers who were military veterans had an average age of 59 and 82 percent had owned previously. However, only 36 percent owned a home immediately prior to purchasing. Eighty-two percent bought a detached single-family home.

In terms of sellers, 89 percent of respondents used a real estate agent. Additionally, 85 percent indicated that they would definitely or probably use their agent again or recommend him or her to others. The typical seller is 54 years old, with a household income of $100,700, and has owned their home for 10 years.

Members of the Jefferson-Lewis and the St. Lawrence County Boards of Realtors joined nearly 20,000 colleagues, industry leaders, and real estate experts from the U.S. and abroad at the 2016 Realtors Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida from Nov. 3 to 7.

This year’s conference theme, “Educate, Innovate, Celebrate,” encouraged Realtors to educate themselves on market trends and key real estate issues, learn about the latest technologies and innovations affecting the industry, and celebrate another year of positive growth. Realtors had the opportunity to make professional contacts from across the globe, as well as attend educational and informational sessions featuring nationally recognized presenters, trainers, and industry experts.

Among the panelists and speakers were Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, who shared the latest outlook for residential and commercial real estate markets; Dennis Lockhart, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Jim Parrott, former economic adviser to President Barack Obama and senior fellow at the Urban Institute; Brian Montgomery, former Federal Housing Administration Commissioner and vice chairman of the Collingwood Group; Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at; Howard Fineman, global editorial director at the Huffington Post; Alex Perriello, president and CEO of Realogy Franchise Group; and senior staff from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Flood Insurance Program. One of the highlights was the keynote given by retired U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell.

Throughout the week, Realtors participated in 100-plus conference sessions, workshops, forums, and classes on a broad range of real estate issues to help prepare themselves and their businesses for 2017. This is one of the many ways Realtors raise their professionalism and skills through specialized knowledge and expertise. Tri-County attendees were Sue Brashaw, Carolyn Gaebel, Debbie Gilson, Lisa L’Huillier, Brittany Matott, Randy Raso, Sue Raso, Jennifer Stevenson, and me.

During the conference, Bill Brown, a second-generation Realtor from Oakland, Calif., was installed as the 2017 NAR President. “In 2017, Realtors will work to keep the issues affecting homeownership  —  whether it be defending the mortgage interest deduction or fighting for more affordable financing  —  a priority on our nation’s public policy agenda,” said Brown. “Realtors are here to encourage our leaders to put forward policies that put the American dream of homeownership within reach for every American whose goal is to own their own home.”


LANCE M. EVANS is the executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. Contact him at His column appears monthly in NNY Business.

Razing raises hope for future: Officials celebrate demolition at former J&L site in Star Lake

JASON HUNTER n/ WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES  Jerry Noseworthy, an employee for Dan’s Hauling & Demolition, sprays water on a building as it’s demolished at the J&L site Nov. 23 in Star Lake. The water helps to control asbestos fibers from going airborne, as the excavator tears down the building.

Jerry Noseworthy, an employee for Dan’s Hauling & Demolition, sprays water on a building as it’s demolished at the J&L site Nov. 23 in Star Lake. The water helps to control asbestos fibers from going airborne, as the excavator tears down the building.

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November Real Estate Roundup: A century of the Realtor trademark

Lance Evans

Lance Evans

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the term “Realtor” by the National Association of Realtors. It was trademarked in 1916 to identify members of the association, a revolutionary group of individuals deeply committed to integrity, community and protecting the American dream of home ownership.

The terms “Realtor” and “Realtors” are trademarks that, along with the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013, set members apart from other real estate licensees. Realtors subscribe to NAR’s strict ethics code as a condition of membership.

The term Realtor is not a generic term. It is not synonymous with “real estate agent.” There are more than 1.84 million active licensed real estate professionals in the U.S. with 1.1 million of them as members of NAR. Realtors work in residential and commercial real estate as brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors and others engaged in all aspects of the real estate industry.

Realtors have access to advanced educational opportunities and training in residential and commercial real estate specialties. Members are industry innovators. They’re on the cutting edge of technology to better serve consumers, and they have helped bring real estate technologies into the home-buying and selling process to facilitate and streamline today’s real estate transactions.

The more than 500 brokers, appraisers and salespeople who are members of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors are members of NAR as part of their membership. Remember, not everyone who sells or appraises real estate is a Realtor, only those who are members of NAR can claim that distinction.

The Tri-County (NY) Women’s Council of Realtors chapter held its sixth annual Jefferson-Lewis “Top Producer” event sponsored by Carthage Federal Savings and Loan, Community Bank, N.A., Gouverneur Savings and Loan, Homestead Funding, Key Bank, the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and Northern Credit Union on Oct. 20. Members were honored in sales and rental categories based on the number of units sold or rented between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016.

The chapter honored Rob Moyer as the Realtor who sold the most units and Rhonda Rogers as the Realtor who was the top rental agent.

The rest of the Realtors in terms of units sold, alphabetically, were: Britton Abbey, Roger Abbey, Mary Adair, Lois Aubin, Joy Baker, Marcia Brooks, Sara Bulger, Vicki Bulger, Patricia Calhoun, Walter Christensen, Libby Churchill, Kathy Cook, Katherine Couch, Melanie Curley, Linda Donaldson, Carole Dunbar, Randy Durham, William Elliott, Kenneth Erb, Cathy Fiacco-Garlock, Jennifer Flynn, Matthew Garlock, Joan Gerni-LaLone, Lori Gervera, Marsha Gibbons, Janet Handschuh, Les Henry, Jeffery Jones, Amy Kenney, Suzanne Krouse, Barry Kukowski, Jacqueline Ladue, Lisa L’Huillier, Donna Loucks, Lisa Lowe, Brenda Malone, Amanda Mattimore, Erin Meyer, Amanda Miller, Elizabeth Miller, Gail Miller, Gwyn Monnat, Cynthia Moyer, Bambi Norman, Timothy Nortz, Lorie O’Brien, Doris Olin, Deborah Peebles, Karen Peebles, Lori Porter, Jeff Powell, Tammy Queior, Maxine Quigg, Desiree Roberts, GaylaRoggie, Nancy Rome, Jill Rosette, Jason Smith, Vickie Staie, Nicholas Sterling, John Stevens, Barry Stewart, Nancy Storino-Farney, Bernard Sturr, and Jennifer Waite.

In addition to Ms. Rogers, the top Realtors for rentals, alphabetically, were: Clifford Bennett III, Daniel Conlin, James Conlin, Sonia Conlin, Carolyn Gaebel, Joan Gerni-LaLone, Daniel Gibeau, Michael Hall, Nicole Lajoie, Micah Matteson, Sandra Rowland, and Lisa Spear Woodward.


Nina Amadon, New York State Women’s Council of Realtors governor, and Lisa L’Huillier, state president, installed the 2017 Tri-County (NY) Women’s Council of Realtors chapter officers during the Top Producer event. Leadership includes Carolyn Gaebel, Bridgeview Real Estate, president; Alfred Netto, Weichert Realtors Thousand Islands Realty, president-elect; Wendy-Jane Smith, Cross Keys Real Estate, vice president of membership; Jumana McManus, Hunt Real Estate ERA, secretary; Lance Evans, Board of Realtors, treasurer.