First Niagara Sponsors Rockland Economic Development's Small Business Center

First Niagara Bank is partnering with the Rockland Economic Development Corporation to aid the REDC's Small Business Center

Michael DiTullo, president and CEO of the Rockland Economic Development Corporation, spoke about the importance of supporting local business for the county during a press conference Tuesday in the REDC's Blue Hill Plaza office.

"When you create jobs, you create taxpayers," DiTullo said. "That creates revenue for the county."

"Which we really like right now," added Rockland County Director of Operations Sue Rutledge.

That is why both joined in to welcome First Niagara Bank as a sponsor of the REDC's Small Business Center.

"First Niagara is committed to supporting and empowering business owners here in the Hudson Valley," said Sara Tucker, First Vice President and Regional Team Leader for First Niagara. "The Small Business Center is a great one-stop location to assist small businesses by providing a wide variety of information and guidance. We are proud to support REDC and the Small Business Center."

"We are very grateful to have First Niagara as our partner to support this vitally important resource for small business owners and start-ups in Rockland County," DiTullo said. "The SBC provides the necessary tools for someone interested in starting a small business -- all in one place and at no cost."

. Nine of those are in Rockland County, including one in Pearl River.  

"Since First Niagara took over in Rockland at the end of May, we have opened 110 new business checking accounts for small businesses," Tucker said. "We have given $2.6 million in small business loans. That's a demonstration of our commitment to the communities here."

Rutledge said that developing small businesses is critical to the growth of Rockland County.

"REDC provides an invaluable service to local companies through its Small Business Center." said Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef through a press release. "The funding provided by First Niagara to continue this program clearly demonstrates their steadfast commitment to growing the businesses in Rockland, and will contribute in a very positive way to economic growth in the community."

Though small business is not the primary focus for the REDC, DiTullo explained its importance, focusing on how small businesses can turn into large ones.

"As many of you know, our sweet spot is inducing large corporate investments into the county," DiTullo said. "We convince companies to invest here to create jobs, to create ratables. To create wealth. Before you can tax wealth, you must create it.

"Small business is also very important to us. After all, 32 years ago, Phil Knight sold his first pair of sneakers out of the back of a station wagon. The start of a $32 billion company. Microsoft had one employee 32 years ago. I think they have a couple more now. Small business is where it all begins, where it all happens."

The focus of the Small Business Center is providing the tools for those small businesses to grow.

"I read in a book written about 4,000 years ago that you have to prepare the soil for the seed," DiTullo said. "You cultivate it. You water it. You pull out the seeds and the seeds spout growth. That's what small business is all about. We're very pleased that First Niagara is working with us, sponsoring the Small Business Center."



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