City, county win funding for NRG study

Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello and city of Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas have announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded a $60,000 grant through its Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, which is to be matched with $60,000 of local cash and in-kind contributions, to undertake a feasibility study to investigate opportunities for repurposing the mothballed NRG facility in the city of Dunkirk.

The project, which is being spearheaded by the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency and the City of Dunkirk Department of Development, will entail the commissioning of a consultant to assist the stakeholders in undertaking a feasibility analysis resulting in the recommendation of alternatives for repurposing the shuttered NRG facility, and will inform and justify the allocation of future resources for redevelopment of the site.

POWER is a congressionally funded initiative that targets ARC and other federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production. With their recent announcement, ARC has invested over $144.8 million in 182 projects touching 312 counties across Appalachia since 2015.

The project components to be analyzed by an expert consultant or consultants (yet to be determined) over the course of six to 12 months, will include but not be limited to: site attributes, assets, and liabilities; market analysis; reuse strategy alternatives; recommended actions; and scheduling.

“This is an essential project for our county and region,” said Borrello. “It demonstrates the proactive and collaborative approach we are taking as it pertains to the future of this incredible asset. We cannot sit idly by as the NRG plant continues to fall into a state of disrepair. This is great news for the City of Dunkirk, Chautauqua County, and the region, and is the first step in what is likely to be a lengthy process for repurposing this crucial waterfront asset.”

Rosas echoed many of the county executive’s sentiments adding, “The city of Dunkirk continues to be proactive regarding the future of its waterfront. If NRG isn’t going to re-power this plant, then we will take advantage of this opportunity by setting the table for something else to happen there that is consistent with our Comprehensive Plan. This project will help us to identify the site’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, and will culminate in recommendations for repurposing this prime real estate. We will continue to work with all of our state elected officials, including the Governor and his staff, to insure that the right decisions are made for this prime waterfront property.”

“Today’s announcement continues an ongoing commitment for innovative economic development in Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. “Investing in key regional needs now will benefit Appalachia, and the rest of the country, well into the future.”

Borrello and Rosas are grateful to the many partners who are contributing to this project, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation, the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, the Lake Erie Management Commission, the town of Pomfret, and the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier, as well as outgoing Sen. Catharine Young, Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, and Congressman Tom Reed.

Any comments or questions regarding this announcement should be addressed to Mark Geise, Deputy County Executive for Economic Development/CCIDA Chief Executive Officer, at geisem@co.chautauqua.ny.us, or Rebecca Yanus, City of Dunkirk Development Director, at ryanus@cityofdunkirk.com.


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