Trail Otter
September 25, 2020

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Announces Grand Opening Of Outdoor Retailer In Livingston County

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Announces Grand Opening Of Outdoor Retailer In Livingston County
$25,000 Award Helps Trail Otter Open New Storefront in the Village of Leicester; Award is Part of $200,000 Community Development Block Grant to Livingston County for Microenterprise Competition to Assist Downtown Businesses
Investment Complements “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas today announced the grand opening of Trail Otter in the village of Leicester in Livingston County. The outdoor retailer received a $25,000 award to open a storefront at 134 Main Street. The award was made as part of HCR’s $200,000 New York State Community Development Block Grant to Livingston County to create a microenterprise competition for small businesses located near downtown districts.

“This $200,000 Community Development Block grant award to Livingston County is an example of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to strengthening small local businesses that provide jobs and help downtowns thrive, especially during these difficult times,” Commissioner Visnauskas said. “We proudly support Livingston County’s visionary economic development team as we partner together to foster the entrepreneurial spirit of local business owners who are the lifeblood of their communities. With this $25,000 award to Trail Otter, we are helping to attract new visitors to Leicester and keeping the Finger Lakes economy moving forward.”

Livingston County’s “Dream-O-Vate” Business Competition utilized a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant to support a microenterprise funding competition to attract new business and enhance and grow existing local businesses in the County’s downtown districts. The goal of the program is to improve economic activity and increase local and visitor traffic. In total, nine local businesses were selected to receive funding.

Trail Otter received $25,000 through the program to purchase inventory and equipment. Their product line includes outdoor camping equipment and, when conditions permit, they will conduct skill-building workshops and help customers plan outdoor adventures in such places as the Adirondack, Letchworth, and Stony Brook state parks.

In 2017, the owner of the building located at 134 Main Street received a $100,000 New York Main Street grant from HCR and administered by the Livingston County Development Corporation. The award supported the renovation of two upper story apartments and the ground floor commercial space now occupied by Trail Otter. The renovation project leveraged an additional $90,000 in private investment.

Eight additional businesses in Livingston County received funding through the program:

  • Sweet Arts Bakery, 95 Main Street, Geneseo, which has grown from “a coffee shop that sells baked good to a full-service bakery that sells coffee.”
  • Honeygirl Gourmet, 61 Main Street, Geneseo, features honeys, cheese, jams, syrups, spices, chocolate and gift basket items.
  • Dublin Corners Farm Brewery Tap Room, 116 Main Street, Geneseo, Livingston County’s first brewery has more than tripled in size since it opened in 2016.
  • The Boriken Restaurant, 40 Main Street, Mount Morris, features Caribbean fare for lunch and dinner in a charming setting.
  • Wendy’s Pantry & Country Mouse Tea House, 82-84 Main Street, Mount Morris, features old-fashioned candy treats, scones, tea service and high-end food products emphasizing products made and grown in New York State.
  • Sunrise Bouldering, 2 School Street, Geneseo, is an innovative rock-bouldering gym with plans to open a café.
  • Jonny B’s Custom BBQ at 1883 Rochester Street, Lima, has grown from food truck to brick-and-mortar restaurant.
  • The Livonia Inn, 17-19 Commercial Street, Livonia, offers contemporary dining in a historic setting and features Parker’s Pub and Commercial Café coffee shop.

The New York State CDBG program provides funding to eligible cities, towns and villages to increase economic opportunity. The program supports activities or projects that: create job opportunities for low- and moderate-income people; prevent or eliminate blight; provide decent, affordable housing; or address an issue that poses a serious and imminent threat to the community’s viability, health or welfare.

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan said, "Owning and operating a successful small business can be challenging, especially under the current conditions.  I am pleased to see these grants being awarded to local businesses to help them grow and contribute to the economic development of our region."

David L. LeFeber, Chairman of the Livingston County Board of Supervisors, said, “On behalf of the county, I would first like to thank our partners at New York State Homes and Community Renewal for offering a program that aims to stimulate economic growth by providing opportunities for microbusinesses. It aligns perfectly with regional and local economic development strategies to create jobs and increase the viability of our downtowns. Secondly, I want to congratulate the nine Livingston County microbusinesses that were awarded funding through the program. We applaud your unique endeavors and thank you for contributing to the overall quality of life in Livingston County.”

Leicester Mayor Barry Briffa said, “The Village of Leicester is pleased to have Trail Otter joining our community to occupy a once rundown vacant property that has been turned into viable commercial space.  We look forward to their grand opening and wish them the best of luck.  Thank you to New York State Homes and Community Renewal and the Livingston County Economic Development who helped make this possible.”

Bill Bacon, Livingston County’s Director of Economic Development, said, “There was such a need for an outdoor adventure business like Trail Otter in this region. Livingston County offers some of the best outdoor recreation in the state, from Letchworth State Park to the Genesee River. Bill and Sonni saw an opportunity and took advantage of an untapped market, enhancing the robust tourism industry the County is working to cultivate. This project will help strengthen the connection between the Genesee Valley and the business community surrounding it.”

Trail Otter owner Bill Waterhouse said, “The Livingston County Dream-O-Vate Competition provided Trail Otter with needed logistics and financial assistance.  We were extremely impressed by the resources provided, starting with the requirement of attending a mini-MBA course, then writing and executing a business plan.  The ability to utilize federal, state, county and local government agencies to help launch our store made us appreciate how we’re all in this together and there are many people pulling for our success.”

The downtown districts of Livingston County are the communities’ “front porches.”  Livingston’s downtowns are filled with historic architecture and commercial buildings that are clustered together to create walkable, pedestrian-friendly districts. Details can be found at


Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward 

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $8 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.