Grant allows small businesses to help other budding entrepreneurs

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Five thousand dollars in grant money is up for grabs if you are a budding entrepreneur and you live in western Monroe County. 

So, how can you start a business with the help of other small business owners?

Instead of competing against you, these business owners want to help get yours off the ground and make it a success.

“Five thousand dollars is not a lot of money for someone to start a business, but it’s a start,” says ______.

Tom Kasper is the president of the Hilton Networking Group, made up of over two-dozen small business owners from Hilton, Parma, Spencerport and Greece who are putting up their own money to help put you in business. But, this group is about more than seed money. 

“The more meaningful thing that we offer is a seat at the Hilton networking group table. And with that comes a sustainable referral base and membership with guidance from other professionals to help that individual build a sustainable business over time,” says ____.

Prospective business owners will have to go through a selection process. Kasper tells us who makes a perfect candidate.

“Local individual who has that entrepreneurial goal, has entrepreneurial spirit, but for whatever reason they don’t have the mentorship and guidance around them to do that,” says ____. “So we’re looking for someone who wants to start something new and exciting, and just needs the support to do so.” 

Hilton Networking Group member Jeannine Graziano, owner of the Feel Good Fitness Studios in Hilton explains how the money was raised.

“We do a lot of fund raising for this event and it’s been a lot of fun,” says ______. “We’ve gotten together some guest bartending events. We did a fitness fundraiser. So, it’s really nice to see all of us entrepreneurs working together to try to help someone because we know what it’s like. We know how tough it is.”

The Hilton Networking Group meets each week at Braddock Bay Tavern and Grill. Crest Tile and Mosaic Incorporated owner Chris Resti says he joined the group about a year ago. 

“I think it’s really good that we’re starting to give back to the community, and like I said it’s not just about the money,” says Resti. “It’s about mentorship, and what everybody here brings to the table. There are people that have owned business in Hilton for over 20 years now. They’ve been through it all.”

The Hilton Networking Group is accepting business plans from prospective business owners. They can be contacted at