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CCIDA and CREDC make lemonade in 2020

By MARK GEISE

Deputy County Executive for Economic Development and COP of the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency

Since October, I have been communicating with the public through this article about all of the great things going on throughout Chautauqua County as they relate to economic development. These commentaries may include discussions about specific projects of public interest that are underway or have been completed, where they are at, and if completed, how they are performing.

They may also include discussions about initiatives being undertaken at various agencies or at the County level, including, but not limited to, the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, the Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corporation, the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth, the Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Development, the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp., the Workforce Development Board, the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, educational institutions, foundations, or at any one of the many agencies whose mission makes them a critical partner in economic development initiatives throughout the county.

This month I would like to recount the challenges and successes of projects and initiatives undertaken by the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency and the Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corp. (CREDC) in 2020.

As has been the case with most everyone, the pandemic created many challenges in 2020and beyond, especially as it pertains to economic development. That being said, the pandemic also created opportunities that would not have otherwise existed.

I would like to think that we turned lemons into lemonade!In fact, the CCIDA and CREDC had a banner year! Perhaps not in terms of the total number of new jobs created (although the numbers were good), but in terms of jobs retained and the total number of businesses, agencies, and not-for-profits served directly with financial incentives. In total, the CCIDA and CREDC, working with its many partners,were successful in committing and/or leveraging just under $47 million in investment in the county in 2020, despite these challenges.

The Al-Tech Revolving Loan Fund and PILOT IncentivesThe CCIDA approved just over a dozen typical incentive transactions in 2020, which resulted in a total investment approved/committed of $41.3 million (excluding Round 1 of the EDA Cares Act Loan program, the Emergency Working Capital Loan Program, and grants made via CREDC for the PPE program).

These transactions resulted in a total job creation over 3 years of just under 200 full-time equivalents, and the retention of just over 300 jobs.

Some of the projects approved by the CCIDA Board in 2020 includedthe following:

¯ ROM Ventures, LLC – Renovations and the purchase of equipment ($4.2 Million);

¯ Arktura, LLC – Purchase and equipping the former Acurite facility in Ellicott to manufacture architectural ceiling products ($7.3 Million);

¯ ECR Properties – Capital Investment in facility for equipment, repair, and upgrades to Dunkirk facility ($2.2 Million);

¯ Petri Baking – Purchase and equipping Silver Creek facility for the manufacture of soft cookies ($13 Million);

¯ Hy-Wit Corporation – Purchase of Cassadaga Kwik Fill and Denison Enterprises ($1.3 Million);

¯Hanover PV, LLC – Construction of 5 MW AC Solar Farm in Silver Creek ($6.9 Million); and

¯KGPHJ, LLC (Premier Precision Machining, LLC) – Acquisition, 7,000 SF expansion, and security system upgrades ($953,000).

EMERGENCY WORKING CAPITAL LOAN PROGRAM

In response to the COVID-19 crisis and the impact it was having on businesses throughout Chautauqua County, the CCIDA provided low-interest loans not exceeding $10,000 to businesses throughout Chautauqua County. This program was approved by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) before it was launched. This emergency funding, which originated from the Al-Tech Loan Fund, was used for working capital needs, and the normal application and securitization requirements were relaxed. A simple two-page application was developed, and the process was expedited so that businesses could access needed working capital quickly in order to keep paychecks flowing to working individuals and their families. While the funding was limited, we helped as many businesses as we could with as much funding as we could afford to carve out for this purpose.

While these emergency loans are to be paid back, they were interest-only for a minimum of three months, and leniency was exercised in terms of normal collateral requirements. In total, 24 Companies were lent $10,000 each for working capital purposes.

Some of these included: Merritt Estate Winery; Cleaners of Chautauqua; 3 C’s Catering; Falconer Hotel; Lost Recording Studio; and many others.

Personal Protective Equipment Matching Grant Program

The CCIDA Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Grant Program had two components. Component 1 involved a 50-50 matching grant program for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other materials needed by businesses (e.g.,thermometers, face masks, face shields, tape, barriers, and other implements)to comply with the Governor’s workplace safety mandates.

The second component involved the provision of technical assistance services provided byJCC’s health experts in order to assist companies in developing safety plans that would identify what they neededto do in terms of the provision of PPE, in re-designing of their workplace layouts, in revising workschedules, etc., in order to protect their employees and customers.

Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corp. (CREDC), the 501C3 arm of the CCIDA, was the recipient of donations toward the program from the Gebbie Foundation, the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, and the Rotary Club of Jamestown, that matched CREDC’s contribution.

CREDC managed the program, which included public outreach/PR, application development and intake (a simple 1-pager), application review, dispersal of funds,tracking and managing compliance, etc. All said,34 companies and not-for-profits benefitted from this program, with a total of more than $24,000 in funding being disbursed. Some of the benefactors of the program included Bailey Manufacturing; Wells/Fieldbrook Foods; Rand Machine; DFT Communications; Chautauqua Woods Corporation; Chautauqua Lake Marina; Domus Fare;and many others.

CCIDA/EDA Cares Act Revolving Loan Fund

The CCIDA was awarded $10.5 million in funding in the third quarter of 2020 as part of the Federal Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Cares Act Stimulus funding, which was to be used for working capital, the purchase of equipment, and other defined purposes to keep their businesses viable. Just as with the Emergency Working Capital Loan Program, collateral requirements were relaxed and the interest rate was set at a low 2.44%.

CCIDA/CREDC 2020 Totals

The following is a summation of the results of ALL programs administered through the CCIDA and CREDC in 2020:

¯ Total Investment Approved/Committed in 2020: $46,992,845

¯ Total Full-time Equivalent Permanent Jobs to be created over 3 Years: 296

¯ Total Full-time Equivalent Jobs Retained: 1,543.5

¯ Total Number of Businesses/Agencies/NFPs served directly with funding and/or incentives: 91

Other Initiatives Undertaken by CCIDA/CREDC in 2020

¯ Started earnest search for suitable land for industrial park expansion – negotiated with landowner in northern Chautauqua County. Additional funding in the amount of $130,000 secured from County through capital projects fund;

¯ Inventoried all county brownfields, suspected brownfields, and/or properties within a BOA (over 400), working collaboratively with the municipalities and other stakeholders along with consultant (Prospect Hill);

¯ Worked with Invest Buffalo Niagara (IBN) to identify suitable development sites/buildings in Chautauqua County for their WNY Site Identification Initiative. Six are to be highlighted in Newmark Frank’s detailed report;

¯ Worked with Gebbie Foundation, City of Jamestown, BPU, RTPI, and other stakeholders, along with consultants (C&S/H. Sicherman) on Chadakoin River Strategic Business/Activation Plan;

¯ Worked with City of Dunkirk and other key stakeholders, along with consultant (Bergmann), on NRG Reuse Alternatives and Feasibility Study;

¯ Initiated eminent domain proceedings for Roberts Road access to Roberts Road Freezer, LLC and county-owned brownfield site;

¯ Initiated proactive Business Retention initiative with Business Development Managers;

¯ Revamped website to support and highlight COVID-19 news bulletins for businesses, and answered calls from hundreds of businesses to interpret state mandates related to the pandemic; and

¯ Worked with Empire State Brands to secure funding to undertake a feasibility study, and assisted them in securing a $2.2 Million state grant.

Just to be clear, none of this could have been possible without a total team effort of CCIDA, CREDC, and Department of Planning and development staff and consultants. As far as I am concerned, Chautauqua County has the best economic development team in the state!

The April “Building Chautauqua” article will highlight the projects and initiatives undertaken by the Chautauqua County Department of Planning in 2020, as well as their 2021 Work Plan. See you then!

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