Jennifer McCluskey is a certified business advisor with the New York State Small Business Development Center at SUNY Canton.

Our local business owners have been through a lot in the past year, from required business closures to having to totally reevaluate their sales systems, to having to install new air ducts and safety shields which were expenses that none of them had anticipated. They do this all while operating with fewer customers and doing everything they can to keep their employees safe. Government funding has helped to ease the burden somewhat, but it has still been a struggle with lots of sleepless nights and busier than usual days.

In this article, I wanted to share some of the brief vignettes of resilience I and our other Small Business Development Center advisors have seen, and to thank the business owners whose sacrifices have sometimes gone unnoticed.

Thank you to the business owner who:

• calls our SBDC office every week to check in and try to keep on top of all the different funding options. Thank you for your persistence.

• kept their employees working so that they could have an income, even though it meant they went without a salary. Thank you for caring about your people.

• stayed on the phone for hours with various offices trying to navigate the unemployment system. Thank you for not giving up.

• decided to temporarily close their business, even though they were not technically required to do so, because they wanted to make sure their employees and customers were safe during the height of the pandemic. Thank you for keeping everyone safe.

• invested money (when money was tight) to construct barriers, upgrade air filtration systems, purchase personal protection equipment and do extra sanitizing and cleaning to assure that employees and customers felt safe. Thank you for prioritizing others’ well-being.

• put extra time into working out a schedule so their employees could work part-time and continue to collect unemployment part-time to maintain the income they needed. Thank you for maintaining income for those families.

• re-thought their entire business model in order to keep operating. Thank you for protecting your investment in our community.

• decided that this was the time to close up shop and move on to a new path in life. Thank you for all you have given our community and we wish you luck in your future endeavors.

• decided to open a new business mid-pandemic. We are excited to welcome you to our community.

We also want to send a special thank you to the Village Diner in Potsdam, which has been providing meals to the workers at the SUNY Potsdam vaccination site. Thanks for your contribution to helping us beat COVID.

To all the business owners out there reading this, keep going, and if you need help we’ll be here for you. If you need help or counseling about your business, you can contact your local Small Business Development Center to talk with a business advisor confidentially and free of charge. You can reach the SUNY Canton SBDC at (315) 386-7312, SUNY Canton SBDC at Clinton Community College at (518) 324-7232, or the Watertown SBDC at JCC (315) 782-9262.

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