Explaining some of the benefits offered to Chamber members, Aikins said, We are the largest business organization in the North country, we offer lots of networking opportunities, we have provided insurance for years to small businesses. In fact, we have expanded on that and we now have a licensed broker on staff.
The Chamber offers professional educational opportunities in conjunction with the Jefferson Leadership Institute and they are having a series of quarterly workshops that bring in speakers to talk about pertinent issues facing the North Country. Aikins ran her own business for years. In 1992 she moved to the North Country to be near family, then decided to change careers. She took a position working in tourism and fell in love with it. She had an opportunity to join the chamber and grabbed it. Aikins will mark her fifth year with the chamber in May.
Darling took his turn, explaining that Time Warner Cable has several sectors in its operations. He works in the advertising end and is responsible for media sales from Watertown to Rouses Point and Lake Placid. His region, the Central New York Division, serves 650,000 households. Darling said he got into the business 27 years ago when it was all about selling short 30-second commercials.
Today Time Warner is a technology company. Darling explained, As technology has changed, we have changed. We are internet-driven and we have interactive television. We have banners running on the bottom of commercials and you can actually download a video of a Ford F-150. Darling started 27 years ago at Channel 7 WWNY-TV as an account executive and rose through the organization to become its director of sales. He left Channel 7 to rebuild Channel 50, WWTI. There he was a partner and vice president/general manager. He joined Time Warner in 2001 as regional sales manager for the North Region.
Darling is a Watertown native, and after living in other areas of the country, returned here in the mid-70s. Next, Randozza shared his story, saying he began thinking about growing grapes several years ago. Trips to Sicily instilled the idea. He had purchased a farm in Clayton and decided that they should plant new cold-hardy plants, called Frontenac grapes, which led to the winery business. He said, The winery industry in Jefferson County really gave me something to sink my teeth into.
Interested in community development, Randazzo began thinking the winery business might be something that could extend the regions tourism season especially with the advent of new types of grapes that could stand northern winters. The new varieties Randazzo said, make absolutely Coyote Moon, Randazzos winery, is the fourth winery to open in the North Country. Two others will probably open next year with more in the planning stages. The region has now developed a Wine Trail and people are coming to the area to sample and purchase the wines from as far away as Pennsylvania.