Medina Journal-Register — POINT BREEZE - Graduates of the Orleans County Economic Development Agency’s Microenterprise Assistance Program (MAP) gathered at the Marine Park at Point Breeze on Saturday for their first-ever class reunion.
MAP Coordinator Diane Blanchard said about 350 business owners have graduated from the program since its inception in 1999. Almost all of those who have taken the class were either fledgling business owners or started their business soon after the course’s completion, Blanchard said.
MAP graduates earn a certificate that helps them qualify for a revolving loan, and Blanchard said that fund has been put to good use as many of the start-up businesses have become staples of different Orleans County communities.
Some MAP graduates from Medina who enjoyed the afternoon were Bobbi Huwyler and Brenda Kephart. Both completed the program in 2011. Huwyler, who owns the East Center Street Stop and Shop, recalled how she worked tirelessly for three months between graduation and Medina’s annual Wine About Winter event to make sure she could participate in the fun.
Huwyler said she used to work for Owen Toale, who owned the building before her. She said that after he closed it she decided the east side of Medina needed something to cater to residents’ needs.
“Without Jubilee, which left years ago, that side of town was left with nothing,” she said.
Today, Huwyler said her shop is “truly a convenience store” as she can get smaller shipments than larger stores and she can be a bit more selective. The only downside to being her own boss, though, is the that the hours are tough.
“Anyone who has their own business works long hours, though, so I’m very happy with what I’ve got,” said Huwyler.
Kephart said that by the end of this year or the beginning of next year, she would like to start her business and base it out of the Stop and Shop. Her idea is to create B & B BBQ, which will serve southern-style barbecue. She said Baby Ribs, whose owner, Eula Collins, is also a MAP graduate, has barbecue with a Jamaican flare.