BY MICHAEL CAHILL
The Rockland County Economic Development Corporation (REDC) celebrated the opening of its new small business center last Wednesday, with a ribbon cutting at their headquarters in Pearl River.
The new small business center is sponsored by First Niagara Bank, a relative newcomer to the banking community in Rockland County. First Niagara sponsored the center with a donation of $5,000 to the REDC.
“In Rockland County we’re interested in your ideas, and in your business,” said Michael DiTullo, president and CEO of the REDC. “Small business is where it all begins, where it all happens.”
DiTullo says that the new small business center will support those in Rockland with ideas for a business by giving them a place to come, ask questions, and learn from people with skills in running a business.
The small business center is a new section of the existing offices of the REDC. At the center, visitors have access to a workstation with learning software and the Microsoft Office suite of programs. This is all in addition to the wealth of business knowledge that the REDC can provide, and no appointments are necessary.
The center even has a direct phone line to the Pearl River First Niagara branch where they can speak with the professionals there about financing and business loans.
“We believe that small business is the engine of the economy, and we want to support that,” said Sara Tucker, the regional team leader for business banking with First Niagara in the Hudson Valley.
Tucker said that First Niagara may be new in town, but they want to contribute to the community. Already they have donated money to the Big Brothers and Sister’s program in Rockland and sponsored the United Ways’ “Day of Caring” activities.
First Niagara is a Buffalo based regional bank with $35 billion in assets. After the financial crisis they expanded into Rockland County by buying up the old HSBC bank locations. They now have nine branches in the county and 26 total branches in the Hudson Valley.
Before the ribbon cutting ceremony Tucker announced that the bank has already opened 110 business checking accounts and given out $2.6 million in small business loans countywide.
“We are committed to support small business in the Hudson Valley,” said Tucker. “We will help small businesses achieve their goals in Rockland County. For more information about the new small business center, visit the Rockland County Economic Development Corporation’s website at, http://www.redc.org/.