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Five area women-owned businesses receive awards

Posted 11/15/22

Five women-owned businesses in Oneida and Herkimer counties were each awarded $5,000 to support the growth and development of their businesses.

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Five area women-owned businesses receive awards


ROME — Five women-owned businesses in Oneida and Herkimer counties were each awarded $5,000 to support the growth and development of their businesses during a special ceremony held at Griffiss Institute on Hangar Road Wednesday.

A total of $25,000 was awarded to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of The Women’s Fund of Herkimer and Oneida Counties. The Women’s Fund was created by women to support economic, educational and personal growth opportunities for women and encourage their advancement and full participation in their communities. Sponsorship was also supported by Baird Private Wealth Management and Griffiss Institute.

“We are thrilled to be awarding these grants to enterprising women in our communities,” said Diane Wolfe, president of the board of directors of The Women’s Fund. “We launched this initiative in late August hoping for more than a dozen applicants. We received 58 applications.”

The applicants had to be 51% women-owned, located in Herkimer or Oneida counties and in business for a minimum of one year. The applicants represented 19 cities in Herkimer and Oneida counties with a range of businesses including fitness, retail, restaurants, manufacturers, and service providers. The field included sole proprietors and larger women-owned businesses. 

“Our grant initiative, Women Investing in Women, was developed to support women in our community,” said Ellen Rainey, Women’s Fund board member and chairperson of the program. “The incredible number of applicants demonstrates how many women are working to make a difference in our area. It both energized and inspired our judges as they worked to identify the five recipients. It was difficult narrowing the field to just five.”  

The award winners are:

TRM Environmental Consultants, Rome — Catherine Dare: TRM’s team of engineers provides clear and concise summaries of field conditions associated with horizontal construction activities and ensures that a quality product is the result of the scope of work. 

Hilltop Marketing, Frankfort — Leigh Ann Dillon: Founded with the goal to help small businesses and non-profit organizations tell their story with a modern website. Hilltop specializes in WordPress web design, small business marketing and digital communications.

The Cremeria, ClintonMaria Macrina: An authentic Italian gelato shop located in downtown Clinton. They also provide event catering for public and private events including farmers markets, weddings and graduations. The Cremeria is rooted with a respect for Italian traditions and a desire to relate back to a time when local community and commerce was at the center of daily life.

New Beginnings Academy, Herkimer Janel Hearn: (Formerly Little Hearn Playskool) Child care facility in Herkimer County that offers daycare services for infants to children age 5. The program works to fill the void of child care disparities throughout the rural region and plans to expand to include after school care for children up to 12-years-old.

A-List Salon and Beauty Bar, UticaAlisha Gaines-Porter: A Black-owned hair salon that provides haircare services to individuals unable to find a stylist, who is very familiar with ethnic hair. The salon also provides booth rental to other stylists in the area.

Community leaders also expressed praise and support for the initiative. 

“For 25 years, the Women’s Fund of Herkimer and Oneida Counties has been helping women entrepreneurs strengthen and grow their businesses,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “I congratulate the well-deserving women who are being honored this year and I am certain that they will use this funding to make our community and the region a better place.”

Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo said Women Investing in Women is a great opportunity for women entrepreneurs to be recognized for their achievements in starting and maintaining small businesses.

“These women businesses identified today are the inaugural participants concentrating on business models designed to enhance women in business, and as a small business owner I am honored to recognize them and thank them for their investment in our community,” Izzo said.

The award ceremony was held at The Griffiss Institute, which attracts, develops and supports tech startup businesses in the Mohawk Valley.

“It is encouraging to see so many women-owned businesses thriving in the Mohawk Valley, and it is an honor to partner with the Women’s Fund to support and celebrate our community’s entrepreneurs,” said Heather Hage, president and CEO of Griffiss Institute.

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said small businesses like A-List Salon and Beauty Bar are the backbone of Utica’s economy and they create the culture that makes Utica unique.

“The drive and talent of our entrepreneurs is unmatched and cannot be duplicated,” Palmieri said. “I congratulate Alisha Gaines-Porter for winning this grant and Women Investing in Women for providing it. I have no doubt that with the right support, our creators are among the best in America.”

The Women’s Fund of Herkimer and Oneida Counties is a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit which is funded by donor contributions. The award recipients will be honored by the organization at its upcoming 25th anniversary celebration.

The Women’s Fund has gifted more than $600,000 to individuals and organizations in their 25 years of service to Herkimer and Oneida counties.  

For more information visit the Women’s Fund at


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