Schumer visits Jamestown to discuss Rescue Plan

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York and Senate majority leader, speaks at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown on Monday. Submitted Photo

JAMESTOWN — Mayor Willie Rosas was more than happy to make the trip to Jamestown to meet with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York and Senate majority leader.

Dunkirk will receive $11.6 million from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan. The money is important, but for Rosas, so is the teamwork necessary to pull Dunkirk and the rest of Chautauqua County through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On behalf of the city of Dunkirk I would like to thank our senator again for bringing and delivering much needed stimulus funds to our communities here in Chautauqua County,” Rosas said. “I think it’s important for everyone to know that while I am the mayor of the city of Dunkirk I am also a part of the bigger team here countywide. The senator and his staff are part of that team. To know that you can count on our senator to deliver these much-needed funds is a great feeling for me and local government.”

Schumer visited the National Comedy Center to tout the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in March. Schumer said the American Rescue Plan brings about $100 billion into New York through stimulus checks for state residents, aid for vaccine distribution, pension relief, expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, new rental assistance, SNAP benefits, money for state and local government and a local restaurants fund.

More than an estimated 58,000 households in Chautauqua County will receive approximately $146 million, and an estimated 35,000 households in Cattaraugus County will receive approximately $87 million. As part of the deal, more than $23.8 billion in state and local aid will be going to New York, with more than $75 million going directly to the Chautauqua region – including $29.87 million for the city of Jamestown, $11.6 million for the city of Dunkirk and over $24.6 million for Chautauqua County. New York state government will receive more than $12 billion.

Mayor Willie Rosas of Dunkirk speaks at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown on Monday during a visit by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York and Senate majority leader. Photo by John Whittaker

“We got the state enough money so that they don’t have a deficit,” Schumer said. “So when the state government is giving any of you money don’t let them tell you they have a budget shortfall. They don’t. They have money. The budget deficit was $5 billion this year, $10 billion next year — we got them a total of $23 billion.”

Rosas, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist and Mark Geise, deputy county executive for economic development and chief executive officer of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, spoke of the possible uses for the federal money above and beyond reimbursements for additional COVID-19 costs. Rosas didn’t go into specifics on how Dunkirk will use the money, but instead took his time to thank Schumer for giving local governments the tools to rebound from the pandemic.

“You have to communicate,” Rosas said. “We have been in communication along throughout the process. He has been providing updates. I think it’s important because it allows us as leaders to plan accordingly when we have issues that we’re dealing with. We have many issues, as Mayor Sundquist mentioned earlier, infrastructure needs, we have upgrades that we have need to do, but we also have to deal with the fact that this pandemic has caused a major disruption in the progress that we have achieved here in Chautauqua County.”

Geise discussed how quickly Chautauqua County has moved to get previous allocations of federal and state help out to the business community during COVID-19. All of the money the county has received is expected to be lent out by the end of April. The new round of federal money will be used to help the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau with marketing to bring tourists back to the area and working with the region’s internet providers to bring high-speed internet to rural areas in the county.

“With this new round of funding certainly infrastructure, broadband, water, sewer is so important to us and really every municipality in the county to have development ready sites,” Geise said. “We can’t have development ready sites without the appropriate infrastructure.”

For Todd Tranum, Schumer’s visiting the National Comedy Center was a reminder of the momentum Chautauqua County was building before the pandemic struck. In short order last year, manufacturing businesses were holding their own, the county’s health care sector was expanding, Fredonia won the Small Business Revolution, the National Comedy Center was named the Best New Museum in the Country by USA Today and in July the Chautauqua Institution was named by USA Today as having the best small-town cultural scene in the United States.

Money for restaurants, another round of Payroll Protection Program funding, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan are all key programs to help get businesses back on their feet as the pandemic drags on.

“So we’re eager to get back to winning,” Tranum said. “We’re on a winning streak, Senator, and once again I think we’re in a place to harvest that momentum through the support you’ve been able to deliver through our national government. Our businesses are resilient. Many have innovated. They’ve persevered through this last year. However sometimes that just is not enough. Support through the American Rescue Plan Act is going to be critically important toward regaining our economic momentum.”


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