Date: April 2, 2024
Contact: Audrey Schwartzberg, ANCA Communications Director, or (518) 891-6200.


NETI Announces Fellowship to Expand Exit Planning Support for Small Businesses
Three North Country representatives are among inaugural cohort

Northampton, M.A. The Northeast Transition Initiative (NETI), a partnership of organizations whose mission is to expand the knowledge, resources and tools needed to support exit planning for business owners and transitions to employee ownership, selected 18 fellows from across the small business ecosystem of New England and New York State to join its inaugural NETI Fellowship Program cohort.

Among the fellows, representatives for New York’s North Country region include Aviva Gold, Director of Marketing and Communications at CITEC Business Solutions; Robert Griffin, Regional Director at Onondaga Regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC); and Russ Kinyon, Business Development Director at Adirondack Economic Development Corporation (AEDC).

In northern New York State, Griffin and Kinyon also represent the North Country Center for Businesses in Transition (CBIT), a program of the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) that provides technical support and guidance for businesses navigating ownership transitions. ANCA is one of nine organizations across the Northeast that currently make up the NETI partnership.  

The nine-month-long fellowship, which kicked off in February, will move fellows through a curriculum and projects that help each participant develop a strategic, region-specific model to support businesses and business owners in navigating the exit planning process and the employee ownership option.

A wave of baby boomer business owners are looking to retire in the next few years, threatening jobs and the stability of the economy within the communities their businesses serve. Organizations that provide services to business owners have great expertise in growing businesses but are not always equipped to answer questions or provide assistance for those looking for ways to exit a business. Employee ownership is a proven strategy to preserve critical businesses and jobs and provide wealth building opportunities for workers who are often left behind.

“In rural communities like ours, losing even small numbers of existing businesses has an outsize effect on our economy, so it is really important that we explore as many avenues as possible to keep that from happening,” said Gold. “It is exciting to be part of the NETI fellowship where we can leverage the knowledge of so many different kinds of organizations and an immense brain trust of experiences. CITEC is looking forward to sharing the resources across the region, especially in the manufacturing sector.” 

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to represent Central New York and the New York Small Business Development Centers in this inaugural cohort of the NETI Fellowship,” said Griffin. “Small business owners across our region are nearing a time when education and the support ecosystem of NETI Fellowship partners will be critical for navigating the natural process of exit planning and ownership transition. Now is that pivotal moment where we can begin to change the tide of pointless business closures in an effort to preserve valuable jobs and our small business economic fabric.”

Kinyon said, “Business succession is emerging as a key economic development and community issue. Preserving the meaningful amenities, experiences and skills that existing businesses provide and passing them to future generations is critical and valuable work. We are striving to identify the elements needed to plan, fund and implement successful transitions, which require extensive collaboration. We are pleased to be a part of the NETI fellowship, which will benefit our region through the broad knowledge and resources our shared network will bring together.”

Other members of NETI Fellowship’s inaugural cohort who represent organizations across New England and New York include: Martha Bentley, Cofounder of Proprietor LLC, Sandie Cataldo, Senior Manager of Economic Development at North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation; Nicolas Berthet-Garcia, Community Business Advisor at North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation: Tomás Gonzalez, Director of Community & Advocacy at Amplify Latinx; William Fitzgerald, Lead Program Coordinator at Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC);Gwen Hart, VP Policy & Director at the Center for Women & Enterprise: Christopher Hunter, Director of Advisory Services at Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF); Benjamin Lamb, VP of Economic Development at 1Berkshire; Ann McAlhany, Business Counselor at Maine SBDC hosted by CEI; Brandon McDonald, Regional Hub Coordinator at Northern Maine Development Commission; Elijah Miller, Director of Policy at the City of Boston’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion; Nicole Obi, President and CEO of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts; Keyur Patel, Portfolio Manager at Boston Impact Initiative; Sara Powell, Program Director at Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship; and Elsabel Rincon, Business Development Lending Officer at Mill Cities Community Investments.

NETI is a partnership of organizations and lenders with deep experience in exit-planning and ownership transitions. Partners share a common goal of equipping small businesses with the tools, resources, and knowledge to support successful exit planning and a seamless transition to employee ownership. In doing so, they help preserve jobs and businesses, increase wealth-building opportunities for employees, and ensure a more prosperous economy across the Northeast. Visit the NETI website to learn more:

This project is a partnership of: Cooperative Development Institute, Cooperative Fund of the Northeast, Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA), Apis & Heritage Capital Partners, Boston Impact Initiative, Democracy at Work Institute, ICA Group, Mill Cities Community Investments and Vermont Employee Ownership Center.

This project is made possible through funding from Wells Fargo.

Three (3) photos:

Left to right: Aviva Gold, Director of Marketing and Communications at CITEC Business Solutions; Robert Griffin, Regional Director of the Onondaga Regional SBDC; and Russ Kinyon, Business Development Director at AEDC, are among 18 NETI fellows representing organizations across New York and New England who support small businesses with exit planning and transitioning to employee ownership.