Local business owners say the resources available for them from the state are overshadowed by cumbersome and convoluted procedures for some of the simplest of tasks.
Fulton County Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Wally Hart, who was a member of Gov. David Paterson's Small Business Task Force, said the task force found the state must cut down on procedures and red tape if it is to retain small businesses and help them thrive.
"One of my issues from day one is that there are great programs in place, but no one knows about them," Hart said.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Chad Taback, owner of True Value of Gloversville, works on paperwork in his office at the store on Thursday.
The Leader-Herald/Kayleigh Karutis
The Open Window Gift Shop and Cafe owner Shelly Johnston fills out paperwork at her shop in Gloversville on Tuesday.
Hart said two chamber members are currently trying to obtain a liquor license, but are running into extensive paperwork and exorbitant fees to do so.
"They've done the paperwork, but there is a long wait-and-see period," Hart said. "They are paying this enormous fee and, in most cases, it's a new business or one that is expanding and hiring people. They don't need more obstacles."
Hart said he also found the state has a lot of services, programs and funding available to small-business owners, but most have no idea those resources are available.
Shelly Johnston, owner of the Open Window Gift Shop and Cafe in Gloversville, agreed. She said when she and her husband first started their business, it took two years before they realized they qualified for health insurance through the state.
"We paid for private health insurance for the first two years, and that was a lot of money," she said. "We looked everywhere, but no one told us we qualified as a small business [for insurance]. We got lots of letters congratulating us on opening a business, but no one came out and told us how to qualify or what to do for the simplest of things."
Johnston said a lot of people think owning their own business will be fun, but many don't realize the amount of work that goes into it.
"The taxes are a terrible burden to bear," she said. "Doing business in New York state is very difficult."
At Gloversville True Value, owner Chad Taback said his status as a business in an Empire Zone years ago has come back to haunt him. As a business in an Empire Zone, Taback accrued tax credits, but because of a loophole in a new law governing the zones passed this year, he lost his credits.
Now Taback has received a notice from the state for insufficient payments since they raised his taxes after taking away the credits. Taback said he is being punished retroactively for a loophole in the law that he falls into.
"Basically, I'm guilty until proven innocent," he said. "In the meantime, it's all the waiting that's frustrating. You can't get something like this solved in a day or two. I don't get an answer for weeks on end. It lingers and waits and then you don't even know if you're talking to someone who knows what they're talking about."
At Chef Lomanto's Market in Gloversville, owner John Lomanto said he was able to glide through the process of opening his business because he had done it before. For new business owners, though, it's imperative that the owner learn from those who have done it before, he said.
"You have to take the experience of someone who has done it before," he said. "It's impossible to succeed without some sort of support from experienced people who will set you up to win."
Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.