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RECHARGE & CONNECT Small Business Conference
March 4, 2021
9am – 5:30pm on Zoom

You are running the business of YOU. But how has it been going?

This conference is all about how you run your business. How do you make space in your budget for your business expansion hopes and dreams? How do you set prices appropriately, so that you can plan for a vacation or retirement? How do you manage your brand as something separate from your personal life? How can you tell when it’s time to change tracks and do something different?

Come to this small business conference, put together for you by Alternatives Federal Credit Union and Civil Advocacy Project. This conference will be engaging and interactive, using breakout rooms and interactive polls, so please plan to attend with cameras on for parts of the day.

A fantastic line up of speakers will cover topics relatable to all business owners, including trusting your gut, tackling financial projections, and how self-discovery can transform your ideas of success.

Featuring Keynote Speaker Heather Saffer, owner of Dollop Gourmet, and winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and ABC’s SharkTank!

Speakers include:

· Heather Saffer, owner of Dollop Gourmet; winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars; winner of ABC’s SharkTank
· Gladys Brangman, Founder, Business Leaders of Colors
· Rebekah Carroll, Owner & President, STATEMENTS Accounting & Consulting Services
· Brendan Wilbur, CUDE, Community Programs Manager, AFCU
· Tal Oron Cohen, Owner, Ba-Li Cravings

Reserve your virtual seat:

**Early Bird discount and scholarships available**

Seats are limited, so reserve yours today!
Scholarships are available. Please contact to learn more.
The sponsors of this event, Alternatives Impact, and Civil Advocacy Project, are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations who share a mission to support and nurture small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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Know your rights!

In collaboration with the Cornell Legal Research Clinic, we can now offer a New York specific checklist, glossary of terms and sample clauses so that you can be informed before you sign.

Small businesses can lose money, or equipment, or face unexpected difficulties due to their lease terms. The lease offered to you by a potential landlord is likely to favor their rights over yours. Don’t just sign it! Take it home, read it thoroughly, and go through the materials on this page to see if you should ask for changes.

If you need to, contact an attorney to review the contract with you.

If you have a legal research question, the Cornell Legal Research Clinic may be able to help you.

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Local Economic Development Conference

We envision a community where everyone who wants work has the opportunity to work.

Economic Development, when people matter


The conference was a success!  But there is still much work to be done to improve our small business climate.  We are hoping to have follow up meetings to encourage local dialogue and action.


Bruce Seifer’s prepared remarks for the Saturday morning portion are embedded below, and linked here.


Civil Advocacy Project is a legal services nonprofit, operating in New York State to help low income entrepreneurs. As an attorney trying to help people lift themselves out of poverty, I found that some of my most passionate and dedicated clients faced a constellation of challenges that are beyond the scope of what I do.

My clients have trouble getting traditional loans. They don’t have a ready pool of investors. Family and friends with money to invest. They have trouble finding a little space to rent for their business as it grows. Or they get hamstrung by the logistics of life, the ‘soft’ infrastructure of life that holds up a community – access to education, child care, food, transportation.

After visiting our Vermont office, and seeing how many small businesses are thriving in nearby Burlington, I wanted to bring some of that magic back to upstate New York.

After a bit of research, I found that the magic that helped small businesses in Vermont was no accident. In the early 1980’s, a political contingent was elected that focused on a ‘grow what you have’ theory of economic development. Through errors and trials, and success, they purposefully designed and created structures to support small growth.

To my great pleasure, I found many in Ithaca who are already working on nurturing the businesses my clients start. This conference is co-sponsored by the Center for Transformative Action, by Local First Ithaca, and Tompkins Workforce Solutions. An organization called BALLE (be a localist), is one of several nationwide organizations working to help communities turn toward their already existing growth potential.

Borrowing from some of the existing BALLE guidance, we structured this conference to help our local economic development professionals, politicians, teachers and board members make the changes here to support the people and businesses here.

The conference will be in downtown Ithaca, September 28th and 29th.

If you would like to attend, please click on the button below to register. We offer a sliding scale so that individuals and those from smaller organizations can also attend. Coffee, snacks and lunches will be included. Please list any dietary restrictions when you register.


About our Speaker

Our guest speaker will be Bruce Seifer, the longest serving economic development public official in the state of Vermont. He began working for the City of Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) at the office’s inception in 1983. He led the City of Burlington’s Economic Development efforts since 1985. During that time he pursued policies that brought Burlington into the strong economic position it currently has – an unemployment rate between 2-3% and an extremely low commercial vacancy rate.

Mr. Seifer has since published a book about building sustainable communities, and consults with cities, non-profits, and local economic development offices about how to learn from the lessons of Burlington.

An interview and podcast about his experience in Burlington can be found here, if you’d like more information.


Conference Schedule

 SEPTEMBER 28th, FRIDAY – Unitarian Church Annex

9 – 10:30 – Access to Capital –   How to build structures to supply funding, when and how businesses need it.

20 minute coffee & bathroom break

10:50 – 12:20 – Retail Space –  Access for the little and medium sized business

Time to Eat and Discuss – 1 hour (Lunch provided) 

1:30 – 3:00 – Building (soft) infrastructure – culture, childcare, food deserts, transit options

20 minute coffee & bathroom break

3:20 – 4:50 – Building (soft) infrastructure – Energy, Environment and efficiency

SEPTEMBER 29th, SATURDAY – First Presbyterian Church Basement

10- 11:30 – How can Non-profits, Business Coalitions and Individuals step in to change laws and regs

11:30 – lunch time (exact time TBD) – Q & A and discussion


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Wizarding Weekend Fundraiser!

In what is hopefully only the beginning for successful fundraising, Civil Advocacy Project is hosting a Wizarding Weekend Divination Celebration in Ithaca, New York.  We are excited to join in a fun Halloween tradition, celebrating the talents of a certain young wizard with a scar on his forehead.  And giving us lots of opportunity for dressing up, eating candy, and raising money for a good cause.

Every dollar raised at the Divination Celebration will go to support Civil Advocacy Project’s activity in the area.   I hope to see you all there!