By LIZ SKOCZYLAS
OBSERVER Mayville Bureau
Working toward creating a thriving county requires teamwork across the board.
From projects at TitanX Engine Cooling Inc. in Jamestown, to Peek'n Peak Resort in French Creek, to Rem-Tronics Inc. in Dunkirk, the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency has worked to keep and grow business, develop tourism and encourage development within Chautauqua County.
"Business retention and expansion is the number one goal of economic development at every single level," said Bill Daly, CCIDA administrative director.
Daly explained that the most important thing for an IDA to do is make sure that businesses are happy, that they can expand physically and grow employment. Additionally, the CCIDA is able to help a business remain competitive through changes in technology and economy.
Through a variety of loans, tax-exemption policies, payment in lieu of tax agreements and bonds, the CCIDA is able to provide assistance to businesses that the county's towns, villages and cities that otherwise isn't always available.
"The city itself doesn't have the capacity that the IDA has, from an economic development standpoint. We don't have the staff. We don't have the technical capabilities that they do to market," said Steve Centi, city of Jamestown director of development.
Over the years, the CCIDA has facilitated growth throughout the county. The CCIDA provided a $29 million tax-free bond for the WCA Hospital Emergency Department. The bond allowed debts to be refinanced, in addition to helping build the new department.
Another example is ECR International Inc., in Dunkirk. The CCIDA was able to work with empire State Development for incentives, which allowed the company to build a 30,000-square-foot addition, as well as purchase new equipment. Additionally, ECR received a loan from the CCIDA for $495,000.
"They did a big expansion," Daly said. "They took 55 jobs from Canada and moved them to Dunkirk, New York in a very complicated deal. They are headquartered in Utica, and they have two manufacturing plants: Utica, New York and Dunkirk, New York."
In order to help with developing business, the CCIDA must first know about what needs to be done. Daly, along with Richard Dixon, CCIDA chief financial officer, frequently make cold calls to businesses, to find out how the CCIDA is able to help with growth.
"We're very proactive reaching out to the business," Dixon said. "We make a lot of cold calls. We know who the businesses are here. Some we don't, but most we do. After six years, we've been able to get around to all of them."
According to Centi, the city often defers to the CCIDA as the economic development agent. The Department of Development takes on other tasks.
"The Department of Development is somewhat of a misnomer," Centi said. "Department of Community Development might be a better title, because we do all the rehab stuff, the code enforcement stuff. It's a different animal, but it does, I think in total when you combine all the activity, enhance and help support economic development effort."
Once a month, a group of various development organizations throughout the county, including the city of Jamestown and city of Dunkirk, meets to discuss current projects. Additionally, at these meetings, they are able to find how they are able to help one another come to a common goal.
"We are a region that benefits from working together," Centi said.
However, there are times when the CCIDA and various governing bodies may not see eye-to-eye on the best way of arriving at a desired end result.
"There are some philosophical differences about the application of the tax-exemption policies, but that's documented. Our position is pretty clear, and it's been documented (in a series of letters). It spells out what our concerns were," Centi said. "Being in the environment that most municipalities are in, especially right now at this time with increases in worker's comp bills that the county has just basically passed down to all the municipalities ... I think there's going to be some more changes. It's just a sensitive time for municipalities to be seeing reductions in revenues."
Despite differences, though, Daly said the CCIDA is always open to communication, from anyone within the county who may have concerns.
"We just keep plugging away," Daly said. "We're always open to dialogue, we're always open to discussion."