Small business' big impact on CNY economy

Economic turnarounds rarely happen overnight. As Armory Square in Syracuse has shown, slow and steady progress can produce lasting results, and it all starts with small businesses.

In the past 15 years, 65 percent of private sector jobs came from small businesses, even as big corporations get most of the attention.

Like many small business owners, Karyn Kortelling knows a lot about managing risk.

She and her late husband brought Pastabilities to Armory Square in 1985 when it was still a run down warehouse district.

Some thirty years later, Armory Square is one of the hottest spots in Syracuse. The area is overflowing with shops, restaurants, and high end condos.

Pastabilities expanded, adding a bakery across the street. Now it ships its famous spicy tomato oil all around the country.

"It's just built upon the work of a lot of small business owners that provided something that was unique and consistent," Kortelling says.

Kortelling has had incredible success, but what really concerns her is uncertainty surrounding the new federal health care laws and the financial impact it could have on small businesses like hers.

"We're all driving in the dark when it comes to exactly what am I going to be looking at when the health care bill is in full effect," she says. "There's lots to learn, lots to figure out. I need to map out my future but I'm not going to keep it from growing. I'm not going to stop my business, stop my ideas."

On Friday, Kortelling and other small business leaders from across Central New York met with Congressman Dan Maffei to talk about the issues they face.

The top concern is getting Washington to deal with its financial problems, and let the country know what it means for them.

"the fiscal cliff is resolved, now it's the debt ceiling, you put on top of that, the debt ceiling," says Allen Naples, M&T Bank Regional President. "There are too many uncertainties in the economy for companies to invest their capital and risk it. Then you have high unemployment."

Kortelling hopes Maffei and the rest of congress don't lose sight of what small businesses do in Central New York and across the country.

"The things that are going to solve our challenges are not democratic ideas, they're not republican ideas - they're going to be practical ideas that people see in their day to day that we can apply," says Maffei.

Typically, small businesses like Pastabilities lead the way, in jobs and development.

"It was small businesses that rejuvenated our downtown and then big business can see its working and take that chance to move their huge company downtown."


any small business owners say the best thing Washington can do for Central New York is to get the government's finances in order and let business make a plan to move forward.