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Onondaga SBDC Now in Charge of Providing Services in Oswego County

By Stefan Yablonski

The head of Onondaga Small Business Development Center, Robert Griffin, is now in charge of the Oswego County SBDC and will cover a territory that includes eight counties. John Halleron, who represented the SBDC in Oswego County for many years until his recent retirement, has returned on a short-term basis to provide Oswego County services as a small business adviser.

“I am an immigrant from Texas — well, born in California and lived most of my youth in Texas,” Griffin said.

He graduated from Angelo State University in San Angelo with a degree in business administration, specializing in market research.

He’s been in New York since 1996 and until 2022, was a resident of Endicott with his wife, Michelle. They have two grown children: Lydia (SUNY Cortland ’21) and Alex (SUNY Oswego ’22).

“I got my professional start in New York in the tourism industry, as deputy and then director of the Tioga County Tourism Office, an agency of the Tioga County Local Development Corporation,” he said. “I then spent the next few years in various marketing leadership roles in the hospitality industry, overseeing teams in corporate food service, a hotel convention center and even a casino.”

Griffin became a business adviser with the Binghamton SBDC in 2018 and accepted the position as regional director of the Onondaga SBDC in March of 2022.

“When I was in college, I was an intern in the economics department. My workspace was in the immediate vicinity of the regional Small Business Development Center there. The director at the time, a wonderful man named Harlan Bruha, was actually an acquaintance of my father’s. I would occasionally get the opportunity to listen to some of the stories about the projects they would help folks with and remembered reflecting on how much fun it might be to get to do that job someday,” he recalled.

In 2018, he had the opportunity to do just that — by accepting a position as a business adviser with the Binghamton Regional SBDC.

“It’s one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had. We help people change their lives in meaningful and impactful ways. So, when the position opened up here at Onondaga Community College, I felt it might be a great opportunity for me to continue to help others on a larger scale,” he said. “I also was very impressed by the dedication to the SBDC program that the OCC administration conveyed to me during the process. It’s a wonderful institution and their commitment to helping serve as a catalyst for economic development is both commendable and exciting.”


“Our advisement services are at no cost and many of the educational programs we offer are at low or no cost to New York state residents and those looking to establish businesses in New York state,” he said.

The Small Business Development Center is a grant-funded program by the US Small Business Administration and the state of New York.

“We provide no-cost, confidential business advisement to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs at all stages of the business life cycle, from startup through exit planning,” he said. “There are 20 such centers across New York state, offering similar services and programming.”

“The Onondaga SBDC territory in recent years consisted of our core counties of Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca. We also provided shared support with other SBDC centers for Cortland, Madison and Oswego counties. The Watertown SBDC, hosted at Jefferson Community College, provided support for Jefferson, Lewis, and the remainder of Oswego County, along with generous support from SUNY Oswego for the program,” he continued.

It was recently decided to launch a pilot program bringing together the Watertown and Onondaga centers into a larger regional center, as a better way for the network to leverage the collective experience of both amazing teams of business advisers and strengthen our regional presence, he added.

“We believe it will really amplify the client experience. The new structure brings together more than 250 years of collective small business ownership and management experience into one cohesive unit,” he said. “That combined and deep experience will now cover almost every business sector including so many that are vital to our area including agriculture, manufacturing, human resources, marketing, international trade, energy, retail and hospitality, among others.”

“Stay tuned for more details on this collaboration as we announce more in the weeks and months ahead,” he said.

Griffin said he is “very fortunate to have a wonderful core of business advisers” that allow him to devote his energies to engaging with local and regional partners — “and ensure that we are out in our communities identifying how best to assist those who can benefit from our guidance and educational programming,” he said.

They offer direct one-to-one advisement for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs at all stages of their business, in-person, virtually or over the phone.

“Our signature training program — Fast Track to Business Startup — is offered three times per year in person in our Onondaga Center, three times per year virtually and we are now experimenting with offering the program in communities where we have identified a need,” he said. “In the coming months, we expect to add a library of choices for small business training experiences, both virtually and in person, across the region covering a wide assortment of small business ownership and management topics.”

Oswego staffing

“We are currently working with our partners in the Oswego area on a plan for in-person staffing of a local office. We have staff available daily in our Liverpool office. Our approach really is ‘right client, right adviser,’” he said. “If there is one thing that the pandemic taught us is that providing services does not need to exclusively happen in an in-person setting. We have become very good at delivering excellent support through all of our channels. What that means is that whether our adviser is primarily stationed in our Auburn outreach office, our Watertown outreach office or our Hamilton outreach location, we can provide effective guidance.”

“The best approach is for folks to contact us through our website ( by requesting services through our sign-up form. This usually gets them assigned to an adviser in one to two business days and is the most efficient way for me to ensure that the client is getting paired with the adviser  best suited for them,” he added. “Of course, if the client would like to meet with an adviser in person, we have the flexibility to make that happen.”