Locate Finger Lakes Business Journal

IBERO Business Center Supporting Diversity and Entrepreneurship Opens Office in Geneva, NY

When Tanya Hasseler was growing up in Wayne County, diversity and entrepreneurship were not part of her life. Now, both are personal and professional passions she brings to her role as the Director of the new IBERO Business Center of the Finger Lakes in Geneva.

IBERO Classroom

The business center is a program of the Ibero-American Action League. Founded in 1968, the non-profit’s initial focus was providing resources for the growing Hispanic community in Rochester. Today its mission is to be “a dual language multi service agency that uplifts, empowers, and advocates for Latinos and the underserved to achieve equity and become fully valued community members.”

Tanya is specifically focused on providing access to support so people in underserved populations can create businesses. “I love meeting people and seeing how excited they are about starting their own business, being financially independent, and becoming their own boss. We help people achieve equity and prosperity so they can thrive in the community. If you need our help, it doesn’t matter who you are. We’re going to help you.”

Pragmatic Programs for Businesses

Located in the Geneva Enterprise Development Center and funded by Empire State Development, the business center serves people who have an idea, want to grow an existing business, or need help getting to the next level. All counseling and mentoring are free. A a 60-hour hands-on business planning and training course is also available for new and existing business owners for a nominal fee. 

Enrollment for the Fall course will take place in August. This session, which costs $99, will be held in English, but Tanya hopes that it will also be available in Spanish in the Spring. Designed to maximize the potential success of starting or expanding a business, entrepreneurs receive one-on-one counseling assistance, in-class instruction with guest speakers that have expertise in their field, and a peer support group. A major achievement for the students is the successful completion of a business plan.

In addition to entrepreneurs, the business center has been helping people get money through the COVID Relief Grants. “There’s still a little bit of money left for that. We are one of the centers chosen to help with these grants for businesses who had a loss of 25% or more because of COVID.”

People can also meet directly with Tanya for advice and mentoring. Not only did she run her own event planning business for years, but she has a rich history working with businesses when she was employed by Wayne County Economic Development and Greater Newark Chamber of Commerce. She also received training through the International Economic Development Council.

She believes strongly that COVID changed the way people think about work. Personally, she loved her job with Wayne County but wanted something that gave her more flexibility to be out talking with people. “There are a lot of people who have an idea. I think people get hung up on not having a business plan or not knowing how to do projections for five years. But, in reality, they don’t know how to take a first step.”

She tells the story of one woman who lives near her and started selling sourdough bread during the pandemic. She got her kitchen certified, set up a table at the farmers market, and then branched out into cookies, jams, and other food products, all which she sells out of before the market closes. “She didn’t need a business plan to start selling sourdough bread. But now she knows people love her product, and it’s time for her to understand where she is going. IBERO wants to help her create a business plan and do projections.” 

Comfort, Diversity, and Community 

After growing up in Marion and leaving for college at SUNY Canton then Finger Lakes Community College, Tanya came back to Wayne County and settled in Newark with her husband who is the branch manager for Lyons National Bank in Newark and outgoing president of the Greater Newark Chamber of Commerce. She finds the city a very comfortable place to raise their two daughters, one who will be a junior and the other an eighth-grader.

“My favorite place to visit is New York City because I love the hustle and bustle of it. Obviously, the hustle and bustle of Newark is not the same, but we have a thriving downtown. And it’s nice to be able to sit in my backyard, listen to the birds, watch the kids play and then still have places to go and things to do.”

She chose Newark as a place to raise her family because it is more diverse than most of Wayne County, reminding her of a smaller-scale Geneva. Geneva has a greater Latino population, which is why her office is located there. IBERO leadership is very open to expanding services in Geneva in the future to serve other needs of both Wayne and Ontario County’s Latino population. On a personal level, as a non-Latina, one skill Tanya plans to work on is learning Spanish.

She particularly loves Newark’s sense of community. She recalls telling one of her co-workers about the parade that the mayor throws every time the kids win sectionals, state championships, or something big. “He gets fire trucks and buses, and people come out of their house and stand on the sidewalk and wave to the kids. It’s just cool stuff like that, that you know you don’t get everywhere.”

That love of community extends to a very important cause in her life – helping alleviate food insecurity in Newark. She is the co-founder and program coordinator of the Newark chapter of Blessings in a Backpack, a program that mobilizes communities, individuals and resources to provide food on the weekends for elementary school children across America. 

Her involvement started seven years ago when her youngest daughter asked for a box of snacks to take to school. “She told me that she had friends who came to school and didn’t have snacks. When I talked with the principal, I found out that for at least 20 families, school breakfast and lunch were their child’s main source of nutrition. I couldn’t believe this was happening in Newark. So, I gathered up three of my friends, went to the wine bar, and decided we had to do something.”

Tanya and her friends became affiliated with Blessings in a Backpack. What started with 20 kids at one elementary school has grown to almost 400 families in the Newark School District during the school year, as well as 200 during summer school programs. The group partners with Foodlink to purchase and deliver the food to schools. Her group focuses solely on fundraising. Locally, organizations like the VFW and Moose Lodge have been constant supporters to help with the $50,000 annual budget. 

Now Tanya is intent on making the new IBERO Business Center of the Finger Lakes as big a community success story as Blessings in a Backpack. She is using all her contacts and enthusiasm to get the word out. “There’s not a lot of foot traffic here so I’ve been going out and finding people on my own. I go to farmers markets and walk around downtown. I talk with everyone and am glad that organizations, like LOCATE Finger Lakes, are helping me let people know about what we can offer. We really can make a difference in people’s lives.”

Register now for fall business start-up classes

Enrollment is now open for Ibero Business Center’s business training course, planned for Mondays and Wednesdays September 12 through October 20 from 6 PM to 8 PM.

Classes will be held at the Ibero Business Center, located at 122 North Genesee Street in Geneva, NY. Their Center covers the entire Finger Lakes region including Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Yates & Cayuga counties.

The classes will cover how to legally set up your business, marketing, insurance, understanding your financials, identifying your customer and other aspects of running a successful business.

Guest instructors will share their expertise as you are guided to complete your business plan.

Graduation certificates are provided upon completion and may be useful when seeking investors. The program will also include a Pitch Competition, where entrepreneurs can compete for seed money to grow their business. All participants are eligible for ongoing mentorship after the classes.

Registration is required. The series cost is $99. Space is limited. To reserve, please call (315) 651-2355, email or visit

The Ibero Business Center is an affiliation of Ibero American Action League and is supported in part byEmpire State Development to help businesses succeed.

To learn more about IBERO and the available programs on the IBERO website at

LOCATE Finger Lakes is a Finger Lakes economic development initiative designed to assist and foster collaboration among the established Finger Lakes economic development efforts with targeted, proactive, marketing communications and networking. LOCATE Finger Lakes is focused on directing local, national and international business leaders to Finger Lakes information and inspire them to look closely at the region’s assets enabling their businesses, their families and their employees’ families to thrive.

Maureen Ballatori is a LOCATE Finger Lakes Business Journal contributing writer and a member of the organization’s board of directors. She is founder and CEO of 29 Design Studio, a creative agency for food, beverage and agriculture brands. Ballatori also owns Port 100 Cowork and Metro Collective which helps Upstate NY shared space operators activate their workspaces.

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