It is an honor and I feel extremely privileged to be asked to serve Chautauqua County, in May 2014, as Administrative Director/ Chief Executive Officer of the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) and Director of the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development (CCPED). The transition has been what I would call seamless due to the fact that I inherited a team of strong professionals that have been in place for many years. I thank Bill Daly for being the architect of this team and both organizations and wish him the very best in his new career.
There were several factors that led to my decision of become part of County Executive Vince Horrigan’s team. One of the real deciding factors was I would be given the opportunity to manage the AL Tech Revolving Loan Fund at the IDA. The AL Tech fund was created in 1976 and spearheaded by David Dawson who was the director of the IDA at the time and held the position for over 20 years, along with Executives of Allegheny Ludlum including Fredonia residents Marvin Hine and James Mintun. Allegheny announced the closure of the Bar Division which was located in Dunkirk and Watervliet, New York. The AL Tech fund was a result of their efforts and was funded by a $10 million dollar federal grant. This was the first time a grant of this type was ever issued and it resulted in the formation of AL Tech Specialty Steel, saving 2,000 jobs in New York State. The AL Tech Revolving Loan Fund has had a significant impact on our economy by creating thousands of jobs in Chautauqua County over the years. AL Tech Specialty Steel was my first job after graduating from College in 1978 and I spent twenty two (22) years with the company!
Within the first eight months of 2014, the CCIDA has been involved in a series of loans, from both the AL Tech Revolving Loan Fund, and the Chautauqua Revolving Loan Fund, totaling over $1,082,943. They were part of the financing of retention, start-up, acquisition and expansion projects totaling $4,019,400 of local investment in new construction, new equipment, remodelling, and working capital. 45 jobs were retained, and 54 new jobs are projected to be created by the businesses helped by the loans.
The CCIDA also approved three Tax-lease and PILOTS that offered incentives by abating property taxes, sales tax, and mortgage recording tax. The projects totaled $23,119,100 in new investments in the County, leading to the creation of 46 new jobs. These projects were completed in the Town of Busti, the Town of Ellicott, and the Town of Dunkirk. The CCIDA’s web site, www.ccida.com, has detailed information on CCIDA projects and loans.
Manufacturing remains strong in Chautauqua County.
To highlight just a few recent and ongoing success stories: the CCIDA assisted Dunkirk Metal Products of WNY with consolidation and relocation of two manufacturing facilities to a new location in the Chadwick Bay Industrial Park, Sheridan. Both former facilities are fully occupied by successful new companies. We provided an AL Tech RLF loan to Artone, LLC in the City of Jamestown to purchase a new manufacturing facility as part of a major capital project to streamline production. ECR International, Inc. in Dunkirk is going strong after receiving assistance to purchase new manufacturing equipment, construct an addition and renovate space.
Beyond manufacturing and industrial projects we also provide assistance to companies in the fields of agribusiness, technology, logistics, warehouse/distribution, tourism. Some examples include incentives, Bonds and AL Tech RLF financing provided to Peek ‘n Peak Resort, Chautauqua Institution and the Summer Wind. All of these efforts are designed to grow regional demand for Chautauqua County as a year-round destination for visitors.
We’re also working on projects the community wants and needs outside of our traditional scope such as a recently approved senior housing development proposed by Calamar in the Town of Busti. This project will result in a capital investment of over $11 million to build 110 units of market-rate housing. Digitell, in the City of Jamestown, received AL Tech financing for their technology on demand, computer products and virtual meetings business. In addition, Beichner Waste Services, located in Stockton, received AL Tech RLF financing for their new commercial and residential waste disposal business.
Presently, we are preparing to announce our 1st Manufacturing Summit to be held on October 24 and 25 at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville. This will include an opportunity for local business representatives to network amongst each other for new business opportunities.
One of the biggest news items has been the ongoing negotiation with NRG to solidify their PILOT agreement for county, city and school real property tax payments for the next 10 years. We also just recently announced the relocation of the CCIDA’s north county office to The State University of New York at Fredonia Technology Incubator located in the City of Dunkirk. Timed in anticipation of the State’s approval of Fredonia’s StartUp NY plan, this move provides us with an opportunity for greater coordination with the university and more opportunities to assist and attract business start-ups.
The Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development (CCPED) has many exciting projects underway, several of which are discussed below. Development of the Chautauqua County Equestrian Trail System currently underway in the eastern part of the County, being undertaken primarily by volunteers and supported by County and federal Appalachian Regional Commission grant funding, is progressing well. Ultimately, this project will result in a 25+ mile loop that connects the Boutwell Hill State Forest to Cockaigne Ski Resort and the Village of Cherry Creek. The project includes the creation and enhancement of sustainable trails, parking areas, signage, and kiosks, and is expected to be a very impressive venue that attracts equestrians from all over the Country.
The Chautauqua County Land Bank continues to mature and grow. It recently received a $1.5 Million state grant that enabled it to hire a full-time administrator. The Land Bank recently completed several projects that involved acquiring dilapidated residential structures from the County foreclosure process, and through negotiated sales has resulted in significant private investment. The end result has been enhancement of neighborhoods, the provision of good housing for the new property owners, and properties going back on the tax roll at a higher assessed value. The Land Bank will continue to ramp up its operations and expects to, with collaboration from municipalities, rehabilitate at least 10 properties and demolish as many as 80 structures over the next 2 years.
The County Planning Department continues to implement projects that were recommended in the County Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2011. These include, but are not limited to: the creation of the Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance; procuring funding to build trails throughout the County (snowmobile, shared-use trails, mountain bikes, etc); development of the Northern Chautauqua County Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan; and dredging of the Lake Erie Harbors. In addition, the Department administers the 2% (waterways) and 3% (tourism) occupancy tax programs, which result in funding being allocated to approximately a dozen different projects each year.
Our strong Economic Offense is On the Move in Chautauqua County.