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Empire State Brands and Furniture Mart Building projects receive priority status

Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello and Deputy County Executive for Economic Development/County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency Chief Executive Officer Mark Geise are excited to announce that two game-changing projects have been recommended by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council (WNY REDC) for Priority Status in the 2020 round of Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) grant requests to Empire State Development.

The first project is Empire State Brands. The CFA request by Empire State Brands (formerly Grow Chautauqua) to the state involves a $2.9 million request to assist in the re-purposing of an existing building in Chautauqua County for a fully integrated hops, barley, and grain processing facility, with the total project cost approximating $14.7 million. The project will assist Empire State Brands in leveraging private capital to get the facility purchased, renovated, and equipped. A recent feasibility study completed by First Key, which was funded in part by the county, the CCIDA, and local foundations, demonstrates the viability of the proposed Empire State Brands model of an integrated grower/processor using Chautauqua County as a central hub of operations. Significant farmer impact is expected with large acreage requirements estimated. It also predicts that farm operation costs will be positively impacted through the vertical/centralized design that reduces handling and storage costs for farmers. The integrated, low-cost, high-control facility design is thought to be a significant industry innovation and addresses craft brewery/distillery operators’ biggest challenges of quality, consistency, and availability of current in-state sourced ingredients. Invest Buffalo Niagara calculates an economic impact of $91 million and 404 jobs created from the development and growth of this new business.

“I am very proud that something that started as an idea, after visiting the hops demonstration project at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Lab, has grown into a game-changing opportunity for our region,” said Borrello. “I am also grateful to Chris LaCorata, New York State, and my economic development team at the CCIDA for assisting with bringing this epic project to fruition.”

LaCorata, President of Empire State Brands, is also appreciative of the assistance he has received from the local and state sources.

“I am grateful to the state for sharing our vision, and assisting with making it a reality,” said LaCorata. “Obviously they recognize that this project has the potential to transform the industry and establish New York as a leader in the production of hops, barley, and other grains. This wouldn’t have been possible without assistance from the county, the CCIDA, Cornell University, the foundations, and a long list of other stakeholders, including farmers.”

The second project that has been awarded priority status is the Furniture Mart Building. The Gebbie Foundation submitted a CFA to the WNY REDC in the amount of $1.8 million to redevelop the Furniture Mart Building in Jamestown. This is part of a $15 million, mixed-use, nine-story commercial building and associated parking to support the new development and the growing need in downtown Jamestown. The Gebbie Foundation is working with the current owner, Arthur Bailey, to develop the building, which is located on the corner of West Second and Washington streets directly across from the National Comedy Center, and a block away from Northwest Arena.

“We have been working on this venture for several years and we are confident that we have the ideal developer partner for the project and the community in Peter Krog of the Krog Development Group,” said Greg Edwards, CEO of the Gebbie Foundation. “The Furniture Mart redevelopment will be a centerpiece to the economic development vision identified in the City’s Urban Design Plan, and will preserve and revitalize an iconic nine-story building and bring much-needed first class commercial space, residential capacity, and additional parking to our downtown in the city of Jamestown.”

“I commend Greg Edwards and the Gebbie Foundation for not only recognizing how important this building is to the continued revitalization of downtown Jamestown, but working the problem with great tenacity to get it to where it’s at,” said Borrello. “I am excited about what is occurring in the city of Jamestown and throughout the county, as we make economic development a priority and we’re proactive in our approach.”

Geise said, “I’m grateful that the CCIDA and the County Division of Economic Development team could play a key role in getting these projects to this point. That being said, our work on these ventures is not done, as we need to keep pushing until they are fully developed and operational.”

“I am proud to be a member of the WNY REDC, and in that role represent the interests of Chautauqua County,” said Borrello. “This year we were very successful in our CFA requests, as Chautauqua County submitted approximately 50 percent of the applications for the Western New York Region that deal with funding through the Department of State.”

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