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County IDA receives $10.5M grant

Photo by Dennis Phillips Anthony Foti, U.S. Department of Commerce intergovernmental affairs director, announces that the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency will receive a $10.5 million grant to help small businesses rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel Wednesday.

CELORON — The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency will be receiving a grant of $10.5 million to help small businesses rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Anthony Foti, U.S. Department of Commerce intergovernmental affairs director, made the announcement at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron, with several federal, state and local elected officials in attendance. Foti said six U.S. Economic Development Administration grants totaling $19 million will be given to agencies in Western New York, with the award to the county IDA being the largest.

“Small businesses are the lifeline of our communities,” Foti said.

The $10.5 million grant through the CARES Act will enable the IDA to establish a new revolving loan fund that will provide capital in the form of low-interest loans to both businesses and nonprofit organizations as a means to respond to economic injury resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, said the loan fund will help local businesses recover and retain jobs following the economic downturn that occurred during the pandemic.

Photo by Dennis Phillips Richard Dixon, Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency chief financial officer, discussing how the county IDA will receive a 10.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce in front of federal, state and local elected officials at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel Wednesday.

“What it’s all about at the end of the day is jobs,” Reed said.

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, said federal, state and local officials have been dealing with the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so as work to develop a vaccine continues. However, he said the economic downtown will continue to affect small businesses for years to come, with the new revolving loan fund be able to assist local companies.

“The longer term impact … is the economic impact,” he said.

State Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, said the teamwork of federal, state and local elected officials working with community agencies has been important since the start of the pandemic. He said the additional funding will help officials keep county residents working at local businesses and manufactures.

“That teamwork is so critical to make sure projects like this are so successful,” he said.

County Executive PJ Wendel said the IDA has the track record of making revolving loan funds work to assist businesses in need. He said at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IDA established a $250,000 Emergency Working Capital Loan Program with most of the remaining available balance of its Al Tech Trust Revolving Loan Fund capital. The program provided 25 $10,000 working capital loans to businesses facing hardships during the pandemic.

The IDA at the invitation of the U.S. Economic Development Administration responded immediately with required documentation to apply for the CARES Act funding, said Richard Dixon, IDA chief financial officer. As part of the application process, IDA staff created a detailed plan for responsibly and prudently deploying the funds in a way that provides flexibility for recipients as well as timeliness in deploying the funding in order to accelerate economic recovery within the county. The newly-established revolving loan fund program will be available to a wide-range of industry sectors including professional services, nonprofits and other sectors that have previously been excluded from receiving IDA loan funds. The fund will provide loans of no less than $25,000 and not to exceed $1 million, and working capital loans of up to $250,000, with an interest rate of 2.44%, which is the lowest allowed.

“The CCIDA-administered AL Tech Trust (Revolving Loan Fund) has resulted in significant private investment in Chautauqua County for many years, and has helped create and retain thousands of jobs,” Dixon said. “Now that we have this additional tool, I’m confident that our revolving loan funds, coupled with the continued support of our partners, will make an even greater impact on the county.”

In a news release, Mark Geise, IDA CEO, said the grant is a “game-changer” for Chautauqua County and speaks to the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s confidence in the IDA to deploy necessary capital within our county to retain and create a significant number of jobs, and to expedite the economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.

“I want to thank our team, especially Rich Dixon and Nate Aldrich, for working so hard to secure this funding on behalf of the county,” Geise said. “We are committed to employing an allocation strategy that is systematic, inclusive, and equitable so we can have maximum impact with this generous award.”

Geise said the application and program details are available and anyone interested in applying to contact the IDA office at 661-8900.

U.S Sen. Charles Schumer in an email said, “In these trying and unprecedented times, the federal government should do everything in its power to support our small businesses and put local economies on track to recovery and that is why I insisted this (U.S. Economic Development Administration) funding be included in the CARES Act Congress passed to deal with COVID-19. This federal funding will begin that process by helping small businesses and entrepreneurs in Chautauqua County weather this crisis and helping the region’s economy bounce back. I will continue to fight to make sure that small businesses have the tools and support they need to rebuild from this crisis.”

COUNTY COVID-19 UPDATE

County officials announced there were 12 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. Nine of the cases were State University of New York at Fredonia students. There are 122 active cases in the county.

There are 497 cases under quarantine/isolation orders. Not all of those being monitored are confirmed to have COVID-19, but have either shown symptoms, are awaiting results or have risk factors. There are 242 people are under domestic traveler quarantine for having arrived to Chautauqua County from a state listed on the state’s travel advisory. There are two people hospitalized, regardless of residency, in the county.

To date, Chautauqua County had 402 recovered cases, 10 deaths, 534 total confirmed cases and 37,294 negative test results.

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