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Tracking Progress With The County IDA

Every month I will be communicating with the public about all of the great things going on throughout Chautauqua County as they relate to economic development. This could include a discussion about specific projects of public interest that are underway or have been completed, where they are at, and if completed, how they are performing.

It could also involve a discussion about initiatives being undertaken at various agencies or at the county level, including, but not limited to, the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth, Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Development, Chautauqua County Land Bank corporation, the Workforce Development Board, the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, educational institutions, or at any one of the many agencies whose mission makes them a critical partner in economic development across the county.

The subject of this reoccurring article could include, but is not limited to, projects or programs related to business development; community development; workforce development; housing; and tourism/quality of life.

I sometimes hear murmurs about a lack of progress in terms of economic development in the county, or worse yet, that we are underperforming; however, while we have our challenges, I assure you there is a lot going on and we have a plethora of entities that are giving it their all every day! I believe that people might feel differently if they were better informed; hence, the need for such a column. That being said, perhaps it’s our fault for not communicating better! In response, this forum will provide the means by which to “push out” information to the public. Bottom line: this column will discuss the positive momentum underway throughout the county, in real time.

More specifically, each month I will be highlighting projects or initiatives that are in progress or have been completed from throughout the county. My intent is to provide first-hand knowledge about the scope of the project or initiative, what the benefits are or will be to the community, the status, and a timeline for completion. It could also look backward and discuss a program or project that has already been completed and what the outcomes where. It could also be about an event that has occurred or is about to occur that would be of interest to the public. Finally, it may just be a discussion about a company or agency that is doing well and what they attribute their success to. This is knowledge that we should all be aware of so that we can feel good about who and what we are, or where we’re trying to go as a community.

For example, I will be discussing recently completed projects such as the Roberts Road Freezer project in Dunkirk and what is currently going on with the access road to the site. I am confident that Fieldbrook Foods/Wells’ significant investment in the Dunkirk Plant will be topic of conversation, as will Athenex. Other examples of projects I will likely discuss include the new Lawson Boat Marina in Jamestown, the National Comedy Center, Rand Machine, Bush Industries, or the new building erected in the CCIDA-owned Mason Industrial Park for the Stannard Group, to name a few.

In terms of initiatives, I intend to provide continual updates on the progress of the Partnership for Economic Growth, do a segment on the status of the NRG reuse study, the Chadakoin River strategic plan, or talk about the internship program completed this summer by the Workforce Development Board that put 84 young people to work. JCC and the Fredonia Technology Incubator also have a number of very exciting and innovative programs underway that the community should be aware of. The JCC Small Business Development Center has stepped up their game and is delivering crucial services for business startups, which I will discuss in detail.

The Land Bank has quietly been improving the community for a number of years, and they have completed many projects that could be the subject of this column. Housing agencies, such as STEL or COI, are very active and have some great projects underway.

The column could also include projects or initiatives being undertaken at the municipal level, such as the Brownfield Opportunity Area Program completed by the Cities of Dunkirk and Jamestown, or by not-for-profits such as the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation and the Gebbie Foundation, as examples. The topic of articles could also include an educational component, perhaps having to do with the different programs and incentives the providers have to offer.

There is so much material as a result of so many people working very hard and doing so many great things – I can’t wait to get things underway in the subsequent months.

The intent of today’s article, which is obviously stingy on details, is to set the stage for subsequent articles wherein I will be providing first-hand details about specific projects, programs, or initiatives that are making a difference in our community. Please tune in!

Mark Geise is deputy county executive for economic development and CCIDA CEO.

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