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Port 100 makes pitch for money in Geneva

A city co-working group said it has enough funding to keep the space open through 2019.

It’s after that time that Port 100’s future becomes more challenging.

At City Council’s meeting last week, two Port 100 members, Maureen Ballatori, who directs the site, and Dana Laurent, made their pitch to Council on the importance of keeping the co-working space alive.

The city’s lease with building owner Dave Linger expires at the end of August, and Council slashed funding for Port 100 by $8,000 in the 2019 budget, to $17,000. That is apparently enough to cover expenses up until the end of the lease.

Ballatori said that a change in membership fees has provided enough money to get through the last months of 2019 but is asking Council give the enterprise $9,000 in each of 2020 and 2021.

Ballatori and Laurent say losing Port 100 would be a loss to the city economically, because the space, with 10 members, helps bring workers into downtown Geneva and serves as another venue where startups can launch and small businesses grow.

She called the $18,000 allocation over two budget years a “limited ask,” with the goal of a self-sustaining operation — possibly under a non-profit status or an affiliation with a Rochester co-working operation — after that.

Laurent recounted her own story to demonstrate the need for Port 100 in Geneva.

A native of the West Coast, she and her husband, Francis, a Waterloo native, were living in Seattle and wanted to move to a “small, cool community.”

They said they found it in Geneva. They liked the city’s comprehensive plan vision that focused on sustainability, and they also liked Port 100, which Lauren described as “a community of people coming together to learn and grow.”

The couple moved here and started a vintage wares shop on Castle Street. She also works at Port 100 remotely for her full-time job.

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