Sherill, NY (WIBX) - It all started with a unique idea for a small business at the former Oneida Limited Manufacturing facility in Sherill. Mark Doherty who brought his idea of growing safe, organic produce and seafood indoors, through a method called aquaponics, today celebrated the official grand opening of Aqua Vita Farms.

Congressman Richard Hanna who was at hand to mark the milestone, says Doherty represents the face of American job creators. He said, "The myth of Congress is that we actually know how to create jobs, gentleman like Mark, he can do that--he knows how to do it and it'll happen right here. A small business and innovation has always been the secret to this country's success and here's a great example. A simple product, but a very complex process, and he mastered it, put a plan together and here he is. Not too many months later so, and for not a lot of money, a couple of hundred-thousand dollars."

Oneida County Executive, Anthony Picente, explains the role his office played in making this small business owner's idea come to life. "Through the county, through the department of Community Development Block Grant Program, the Micro Enterprise Grant Program, which is for small business and new ideas, it just fit perfectly, so working with us and Mohawk Valley Edge, and obviously it was a great program that could be used for this, and we're very excited that we could be a small piece of it," the county executive said.

The company received a $20,000 working capital grant from the county's Micro Enterprise Program. Financial support also came from the USDA Rural Development program in the form of a loan guarantee, which Hanna assisted the company to secure. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided an 80 percent loan guarantee to Oneida Savings Bank.  Using hydroponic technology, Aqua Vita Farms will produce year-round, fish, lettuce and herbs, for wholesale distribution to local restaurants, farmers markets and fruit stands. You can learn more about the new company by visiting its Facebook page.