Area businesses, regardless of whether they’re Genesee County Chamber of Commerce members, are welcome to join a workshop designed to them get through a “difficult future” under the COVID-19 pandemic, according to chamber President Tom Turnbull.

“Business Planning during the Covid Crisis” will be the subject of the chamber’s workshop at 9 a.m. Dec. 3.

“Never has been business planning more important or more challenging than during this pandemic,” Turnbull said in a press release.“This workshop is designed to help our local businesses plan and navigate ...”

During the workshop, Richard Petitte, a certified business advisor for the SUNY Brockport Small Business Development Center, will discuss taking a look at how your business can realize success in these times. He will concentrate on developing your ideas through the business plan process and evaluating the feasibility of those ideas before investing time and money in them, the chamber said.

Jeremy Liles, owner of Oliver’s Candies, LLC, in Batavia and Sweet Life Country Store in Elba, which includes an Oliver’s Candies factory, said although the Dec. 3 workshop isn’t one that Oliver’s will be able to take part in during the busy pre-Christmas season, he would try to set up a private workshop in January.

“The problem is any of the workshops at the end of November, early December are very tough for me,” Liles said. “Most of my crew is tied up in ribbon candy. We’re making candy for Christmas. We’re making ribbon Christmas candy. All our handmade candy canes are ready.”

Liles said the Chamber of Commerce has been very helpful.

“If I need information, they’re one of the first places I’ll call. I’m part of a larger organization for confectionery retail, for candy makers across the nation,” he said.

Between the Batavia and Elba locations, there are 47 employees, Liles said. One employee whose is currently self quarantining to make sure she doesn’t have any symptoms, he said.

“Staffing, obviously, is becoming a touch-and-go situation. Right now, I would say we have most of our staff. Right now I have one out. She‘s not on mandatory quarantine but it’s a ‘friend of a friend’ type of thing,” Liles said. The business owner said the staff has been sanitizing and cleaning at both the Batavia and Elba facilities.

“We’re doing all the above-and-beyond stuff that we can. We heard that this whole flare-up (of COVID-19) would start again, so we figured, ‘Why not continue the precaution?’” he said. “We’ve taken a lot of precautions. the digital thermometer. I’ve told them (employees) if they have a cold or cough ... we’d like them to use their judgement. If there’s a chance (of being sick), don’t come in. Take at least the day off, see where it goes from there.

“I’d like to keep my employees safe and my customers safe. I’d like to be able to stay open through Christmas. In business, this is our fourth quarter,” he said. “We’d like to survive.”

Liles said everybody should be concerned about another wave of COVID.

“If we all take the precautions — wear the mask, wash your hands ... I don’t want it going through our building. We know our employees, but every customer that walks through the store, we hope that they will use their judgement,” he said. “The rules are there for a reason. If you can’t follow the rules, don’t come into our store.”

In Batavia, Kathy Ferrara, owner of Batavia’s Original, has her restaurant closed for most of this week, but hopes to open Friday. The county Department of Health last Friday reported a confirmed case of COVID-19 of an employee who contracted the virus from a family member, not while at work.

Ferrara said the closing of Batavia’s Original is not mandatory, but a decision she made. The restaurant has been closed since last Thursday, though Ferrara said last week that she hoped to open Monday.

“I just wanted to give extra time. Due to contact tracing with the health department, we would be able to open on Wednesday, but I decided to give it a couple of extra days and open on Friday, just to be safe,” she said. “All my employees have been tested. I’ve been in contact with the health department.”

Ferrara, a member of the Chamber of Commerce board, said she attends all chamber workshops.

“I’ll be there as well as my managers. As far as me and my staff, there would be eight of us attending,” she said.

The workshop will be held via Zoom and should last about one hour. This event is free for chamber and Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District members. There is a $10 charge for non-members. To register, contact Kelly Bermingham at the chamber by phone at 585-343-7440 or by email at

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