Putting job-seekers to work

Staffing firms connect the north country with opportunities

Robert J. Penski, owner of Penski Inc., outside his business at 50 Market St. in Potsdam. Photo by Jason Hunter.

The job hunt can be a tedious, yet gratifying, frustrating and fulfilling journey. Sometimes the search for work is in one’s field. Other times, job seekers decide — or are forced — to switch gears and take a completely different path.

Despite the reasons for the hunt, work force firms and staffing agencies are bringing the job search full circle bigger and better than before. Even during an economic downturn, these companies continue to help people and businesses find ways to thrive without enduring major financial challenges.

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Third quarter marked by robust tri-county home sales

Third-quarter residential home sales sizzled in Jefferson and Lewis counties, boosting purchases 12 percent over last year.

In St. Lawrence County, however, single-family home sales through three quarters dropped compared with last year, according to the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. From January through September, 428 homes were sold, a 6 percent drop from last year’s 454. This year’s median price through three quarters was $82,500, up from last year’s $75,000.

From July through September, 388 single-family houses were sold in the two counties through members of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors, up from last year’s 371 during the same period. A total of 911 residential home sales for the region were chalked up from January through September, a 12 percent increase from last year’s 803 sales.

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Add value to your investment

Triple A Building Center employee Randy R. Richards shows Castlerock Paneling to a customer at Triple A Building Center in Massena. Photo by Jason Hunter/NNY Business.

Simple upgrades, quality materials net biggest return

Thinking about installing a garden tub in the bathroom? Forget about it.
Contemplating turning the garage into additional living space? Don’t bother.

When renovating a home, or building a new one, local contractors and real estate agents would agree: make simple upgrades with high-quality materials.

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Frontenac sells Jefferson and Lewis delivery routes

CLAYTON — Frontenac Crystal Springs has sold its delivery routes in Jefferson and Lewis counties to a distributor based in Watertown, Conn.

Frontenac on Friday reached a deal with Crystal Rock Water, which has a regional office in Syracuse, to handle those routes, starting Monday, according to company President Michael A. Colello.

“We want to focus on up north, as well as our bottling operation,” Mr. Colello said Saturday evening.

The move, which has been under consideration for some time, will also serve to recapitalize the business, he said.

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USDA-certified slaughterhouses coming soon

Cathy A. Smith and her husband, Ronald G. Smith, with a turkey Saturday on their farm at 542 County Route 46 in Massena. They plan to have a USDA-certified slaughterhouse to deal with all the birds they raise each year. Photo by Jason Hunter/Watertown Daily Times.

The potential for north country farmers to raise livestock and poultry for sale to restaurants and institutions will improve shortly.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified mobile poultry slaughterhouse is expected to arrive in St. Lawrence County by the end of October. A second USDA-certified poultry slaughterhouse, mostly intended to handle a private flock but which eventually could take in some birds for other farmers, is being built in Massena.

A USDA-certified slaughterhouse for other livestock is in the works to open in the spring in Lewis County.

“I think it’ll be a really good thing for the economy,” said Rachel D. Brandt, who is working with her husband, Jordan D. Brandt, to reopen a long-closed slaughterhouse in Croghan. “In the long run, it’ll help everybody.” [Read more…]

Couple brings new life to Cottage Inn

Cottage Inn owners Denise and Daniel Young share a sample of wine in the new renovated and reopened inn, located in Copenhagen. Photo by Elaine Avallone.

It was like coming home as Denise K. Young and her husband, Daniel A., reopened the Cottage Inn.

“It’s an amazing old building with old architecture and is a piece of the history of the area,” said Mrs. Young.

The establishment — which had been closed for nearly a year — was twice owned by Mrs. Young’s mother, Alice VanCour. The VanCours operated the inn for about 30 years. Mrs. Young said her father, R.K., built the bar portion of the establishment in 1965. According to Mrs. Young, the bar-restaurant has gone by the Cottage Inn since 1892 so she won’t change the name.

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New ag, convenience stores proposed in Lowville

A sign off Number Four Road in Lowville promotes a farm and feed store proposed by North Country Ag LLC next to Tractor Supply. The entrance to the store is slated to be on Ross Road.

LOWVILLE — Village planners are reviewing proposals for new agricultural and convenience stores here.

North Country Ag LLC, Seneca Falls, has submitted plans to build a 60-by-72-foot farm equipment and feed store on a 6.6-acre parcel off Ross Road next to Tractor Supply, while Valentine Stores Inc., Watertown, plans to build a 90-by-50-foot Nice N Easy store with a five-station gas pump island on Utica Boulevard at the site of the former Lighthouse Restaurant and Motel.

North Country Ag is a joint venture of Finger Lakes Dairy Services Inc., a livestock supply and equipment distributor, and Keystone Mills, which sells feed for livestock and pets.

The proposed store, about half of which is to be warehouse space, will provide a base of operations for the companies’ area salesmen and hopefully attract walk-in customers as well, said Merlin D. Kurtz of Keystone Mills.

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Turning a home run: With locally harvested wood, New Bremen bat firm takes off

RBI Bats co-owner David L. Lapp uses an electric brand to stamp the company’s logo on a nearly finished bat. Photo by Amanda Morrison

There is an unassuming woodworking shop on Patty Street in New Bremen.

From the outside it looks like an ordinary oversized garage, but inside, the teamwork of two local men brings together 30 years of woodworking experience and a lifelong passion for baseball.

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Region’s hospitals pack economic punch, fuel 7,000 jobs in area

Above, from left, Dr. Troy R. Johnson, River Hospital emergency department and inpatient services director, and Chris Symenow, registered physician’s assistant, read patient charts at the Alexandria Bay hospital while staff tends to the phones. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

Even when the state and national economy takes a nose dive, the north country can count on local hospitals to help boost its economy. As some of the largest employers across the state, hospitals not only drive money into the economy but are a source for steady job creation as well.

Eight hospitals within Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties pumped $777,658,000 into the local economy, according to 2010 data, the most recent available, supplied by the Healthcare Association of New York State.
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HSBC’s departure creates smaller pot of loans for small businesses

The former HSBC building in downtown Watertown is now owned by Community Bank.

With HSBC gone from the north country, the smaller banks that remain may not have enough capital to meet the demand of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Observers say those seeking loans to launch startups could find themselves at a disadvantage, as the pool of applicants will be dominated by HSBC’s larger clients now doing business at local banks. This summer, five HSBC branches in the north country were taken over by Community Bank and four by First Niagara Bank.

“When the largest bank leaves the area, common sense says to me it’s going to be much more difficult for startups to find funding,” said F. Eric Constance, regional director of the Small Business Development Center in Watertown, which helps startups develop business plans in Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego counties. “It makes it that much more difficult to find loans.”

Of the roughly 800 clients the center works with during a typical year, about 65 percent are small startups. Only about 15 percent of the nonprofit’s clients successfully obtain loans.

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