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County Industrial Development Agency Reviews 2021 Work, Ideas For Coming Year

Plan For 2022

The county IDA is working with the city of Dunkirk on a new use for the former NRG power plant pictured above.

The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency is turning its sights on several vacant parcels this year, including the Furniture Mart Building in Jamestown and the former NRG power plant in Dunkirk.

The IDA’s 2022 work plan includes acquisition of at least one large parcel or several parcels for expansion of shovel-ready sites in the county, reactivating several key vacant buildings, including the Furniture Mart Building, the White Inn, Silver Creek school, and the large formerly ConAgra-owned Building in Dunkirk; continue to work with the City of Dunkirk, State, and NRG in getting the NRG facility back into productive use; and develop a marketing and branding strategy for the county to help address population decline and supply businesses with labor.

The county is working with the city of Dunkirk to undertake Phase II of the NRG power plant reuse project, funded by a $160,000 grant through NYSERDA’s Just Transition Site Reuse Planning grant program, to advance several predevelopment activities. These may include a detailed infrastructure assessment, Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment, development of marketing materials, site planning, workforce development strategies, non-site-specific community revitalization strategies, public engagement, and others as determined through the initial baseline planning process, and is follow-up to Phase I work already completed.

IDA officials have also hired a marketing and communications director to develop a marketing strategy to try to attract people to relocate to the area to fill available jobs, retire in Chautauqua County or visit.

Work this year will also resume to spend federal stimulus funding. That funding includes $1.4 million to acquire shovel-ready sites for development, $1.4 million for water/sewer infrastructure for shovel-ready sites; $500,000 to support economic development projects through the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth, $352,000 for workforce development efforts through the Workforce Investment Board, Jamestown Community College, the county Visitor’s Bureau and IDA, and $232,540 for agriculture improvement through Cornell Cooperative Extension. The county is also using $400,000 to provide marketing assistance to county businesses and non-profits.

The former Silver Creek school on Main Street is among the IDA’s 10 priority projects this year.

Mark Geise, deputy county executive for economic development and chief executive officer of the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, recently told IDA board members that the agency approved nearly 50 projects, which included the approval of loans for businesses, incentives for development projects, and the procurement of grants on behalf of businesses.

“This has been an epic year,” Geise said. “Through all of the diversity posed by the pandemic, the CCIDA team was able to knock it out of the park. This was due to the unwavering dedication of an extremely capable staff, board, and community volunteer team making up our Loan Transaction Committee, and so many others. We will continue to be aggressive and intentional as we continue to advance the ball in terms of economic development, as well as the creation and retention of jobs.”

Some of the projects included incentives for the $13 million Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store in Ripley; the $18 million Webb’s Chautauqua Resort in Mayville; the $41 million Americold Freezer in Dunkirk; the $1.4 million Hideaway Bay Resort in Silver Creek; the $11.6 million redevelopment of the former Welch’s Headquarter Building in Westfield; the securitization of loan/grant funding for Jamestown Container Corporation and Jamestown Advanced Products in the amount of $4.6 million; the sale of CCIDA-owned land to develop a new YMCA facility in Jamestown; and several small (less than 5 MW) solar projects .

In 2021, the IDA also approved CARES Act Loan funding for 25 businesses throughout Chautauqua County totaling $5 million, which was part of the $10.5 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant received by the IDA in 2020. The IDA was involved in projects, loans, and grants that will result in $164 million being invested in Chautauqua County, according to Geise, which are projected to create 314 new permanent jobs over three years, and will retain more than 1,750 jobs.

“I am thrilled with the work being undertaken by the CCIDA and the extended economic development team, which includes the Partnership for Economic Growth and the County Planning Department,” said County Executive PJ Wendel. “I commend Mark Geise and the CCIDA team for their laser focus on Chautauqua County’s upward trajectory despite the pandemic. As I’ve stated many times, our comeback will be greater than our setback, and the CCIDA’s 2021 tally of accomplishments speaks to the significant steps forward we continue to make for our local economy year after year.”

The White Inn on Main Street in Fredonia stands empty and unused March 7. Post-Journal file photo

In addition, Geise discussed what he considers to be the top 10 accomplishments resulting from activities undertaken by the IDA and the county economic development team in 2021. In addition to several of the larger development projects approved by the IDA and previously-mentioned, Geise also discussed the $1.2 million Ralph Wilson Jr. Foundation grant received by the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth; more than $4 million received for economic development-related projects via the American Rescue Plan Act allocation made to the county; continued collaboration with the cities of Jamestown and Dunkirk; IDA activiteis to help businesses deal with the COVID-19 pandemic — including the EDA Cares Act Loan Program, Personal Protective Equipment Business Assistance Program and CCIDA Working Capital Loan Program — and the analysis and continued negotiations with several property owners to expand the CCIDA’s shovel-ready site offerings.

“Congratulations to the entire economic development team for all of your dedication and hard work,” said Mike Metzger, chairman of the IDA board. “We have a great relationship with the business community, the municipalities, and the county, and this has proven to be true in the substantial impact that we are making throughout the county. A special thanks to the volunteer CCIDA Board and Loan Committee, as well as the staff and every entity involved with economic development in Chautauqua County for making 2021 a great year.”

The CCIDA/CREDC 2021 year-end report and 2022 work plan can be found on the IDA website at www.ccida.com.

Redevelopment of the Furniture Mart building in Jamestown is a priority for the county Industrial Development Agency in the coming year. P-J file photos

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