by AARON CERBONE
SARANAC LAKE — As part of a Northern Border Regional Commission grant package announced by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik Thursday, the Adirondack North Country Association was awarded $248,364 toward creating the Adirondack North Country Center for Businesses in Transition.
This $373,130 project aims to help Baby Boomer business owners find successors for their businesses and transfer their responsibilities to the new ownership.
Jacob Vennie-Vollrath, ANCA’s regional advocacy coordinator, said an ANCA study of the regional economy last year, conducted with the help of local businesses owners and universities, identified that in the next five to 10 years there will be a need for aging business people to plan to transition the business ownership as they retire.
“We have a lot of resources dedicated to creating new businesses; we don’t have a lot of resources dedicated to assist existing business owners in transitioning to the next generation,”Vennie-Vollrath said.
Though there is no regional data showing how many business owners are prepared to transition, the study identified 10,000 to 16,000 businesses in a 14-county region that will need to make decisions in the coming year, and the center plans to reach over 4,800 of them, retaining approximately 1,440 jobs.
Nationally, Vennie-Vollrath said, fewer than 15 percent of business owners have a formal exit plan in place, despite 75 percent planning on selling their business. He said owners need to plan at least three to five years in advance to transition smoothly. Because many store owners plan to fund their retirements through the sale of the business, if they do not have a solid plan they often end up liquidating all their assets and selling the building but not the business.
“What we’re trying to prevent with this program is the loss of these businesses, trying to prevent empty storefronts, trying to prevent loss of jobs,” Vennie-Vollrath said.
Read the full article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.