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‘What Would Make Your Town a Better Place to Do Business?’

Interviews by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

“If we had more room to expand, that would be nice. We need more apartment communities in the area, whether we own them or not. We’re turning people away. It would be nice if the town approved some building projects like this.”

Sharon Schantz

Leasing supervisor, Country Garden Apartments, Central Square


“If there were actually something to do in the Canalview Mall, that would help bring people in.”

Ellen Ladd

Owner, EA Tax & Financial Services, Fulton


“Traffic. Sometimes, the rush hour traffic makes it hard for people to get to me. For some of the older people, that’s stressful for them to come here. Noise control would be nice. The appearance of the streets could improve. If I go to a business with someone and there’s trash on the street, it seems like a dumpy part of town. I would love to see a town hall meeting for business owners. The WISE Women’s Business Center has a really nice meeting once a month to connect with others. To have that city-wide, the community would benefit. That would promote charity and people knowing who’s in their community. If they hear about any bad business practices, they could share it. It can help you keep your eyes open as a business owner. I’d like to see more community building.”

Grace Puchalski

Licensed clinical social worker, Liverpool


“We’d like a wonderful source of organic foods and restaurants that would serve fresh foods so people would eat better. It’s so important for health. We wish we had more diverse restaurants. I’d like to see group yoga classes. Community is very important, so things like tai chi in the park and other things to bring together the older community. You want alliances and friends and shared meals. There should be some place in every community where you can pay a small price and eat a good meal, along with some way to engage in physical activity. That is so good for older people. There needs to be places to have a community garden. Community gardens are a wonderful thing. The chamber used to have networking groups for entrepreneurs and mentors. Successful businesses used to have mentorships. I don’t think they’re doing it now.”

Susan Brown, Ph. D. 

Owner, Center for Better Bones, Syracuse


“Keeping I-81 as an improved viaduct would make our town easier to do business in. Thanks to the variety in our basket of goods, greater Syracuse did not ‘de-industrialize’ like so many other towns. In this local ecosystem, we can find everything from primary materials to custom finishing within driving distance. We crisscross the region all day long to interact with vendors, customers, freight companies and professional services. Business is starting to get stuck in traffic. As opportunities in manufacturing ramp up, we should be able to compete for folks from all zip codes, not just our suburban neighbors. Amazon is about to open and the logistics sector is also growing fast so we’ll need more transportation capacity, not less.”

Laura Miller

General manager, Darco Manufacturing, Inc., Syracuse


“I’m actually quite pleased with the town here. At their offices, they always handle everything every efficiently. The road work is excellent.”

Al Hinman

Co-owner, Buxton Creek Stables, Central Square


“Having local zoning boards work better with businesses, if you want to get something done. Make it understandable and doable. The local towns’ zoning boards are not small business friendly. You have to be papered up pretty good and have quite a lead time to stick a shovel in the ground. For small businesses, that’s a tough pill to swallow. Taxes are another issue. Anybody who’s building new, I don’t know how they can afford the taxes and the hoops you have to jump through. You have to have engineers up the ying-yang. There’s no sense in government anymore. I understand why somewhat, as they’ve had growing pains in towns. Corporate America has taken over as they’re the only ones with the resources to afford to build, especially in Oswego County. If you want to buy an existing facility, they don’t want to meet your needs. It’s crazy money to build new. I have sons who might want to take over someday, but I wonder if this is a good business to pursue. In the restaurant business, if you go to mom-and-pop restaurant, it’s not like a fast food chain. They can’t compete with McDonald’s or the franchises. But in a franchise, you have different people coming and going. At our shop, we’re the ones working on your car. At franchises, the corporation is a buffer. The bureaucracy is tough for small businesses. We’d like to do some expansion on the business and aren’t sure how to go about doing it. I don’t have a good perspective with working with engineers and architects. As we move forward, the big corporate hammer is going to whack us little guys. It’s frustrating. I’m open to a good future but it takes good leaders for a good future.”

Matt McGill

Owner, Matt McGill Collision, Brewerton


“I do home inspections. I wish we had more inventory of homes. There’s an incredible lack of inventory. Because of that, people are waiving inspections to purchase the house before someone else. This is going to be an issue in the next year. People are buying houses not knowing what the issues are and they’re not setting aside a budget for things they don’t know are issues. Roof repairs, furnaces, hot water heaters: everything has a life expectancy. The average cost of a home is $20,000 to $30,000 over the asking prices because of the bidding wars. It’s made it difficult for buyers and home inspectors.” 

Ryan Mackridge

Owner, Hands On Home Inspections LLC, Pennellville


“One of the challenges that Oswego has constantly faced over the years is we have trouble in letting the world know what we have to offer and that the city is on the rise, and all the things we’ve accomplished and the business progress along with the wonderful public projects. The businesses do well in advertising but the city advertising holistically would be the next step to let the world know what we have to offer. From the mechanics side of doing business, the local banks and city are great to work with, the business community is growing and tends to work well together. You feel like all the pieces of the puzzle are there. That 45,000-foot level question is ‘How do we holistically get the word out that Oswego is a great place to live, work and play?’”

Nate Emmons

Owner, Just Push Play Productions, Mother Earth Baby, Curious Kids Toy Shop, Oswego


“Certainly, taxes would have a big play. There’s no questioning that zoning is changing the building codes so no one can keep up with them. If we didn’t have inflation that would certainly help. It’s a very chaotic business environment.”

Tim Buckingham

Owner, Buckingham Market, Constantia


“Less regulations and paperwork from the government. It takes so much time to do the taxes and make out all the paperwork. Less of that would help.” 

Greg Dufore

President, Dufore’s for Diamonds, Inc., Oswego


“I honestly don’t have any issues with my town.”

Brenda Weissenberg

Owner, Affordable Business Solutions, Central Square