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County awarded $1M grant from Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation

The Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDC), the umbrella organization of the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth (CCPEG), today authorized the acceptance of a three-year, $1.05 million grant award from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

The grant award, CCPEG’s largest financial commitment to date, will extend and enhance CCPEG’s administrative and project development capacity while dedicating the majority of the funding to implement priority projects in alignment with the county’s recently completed economic development strategic plan. This flexible funding pool is designed to provide critical local-matching dollars for catalytic economic and community development projects seeking funding from a multitude of local, state, federal, and philanthropic sources.

CCPEG Co-Chair Mark Geise, who is also the Deputy County Executive for Economic Development and CEO of the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) said, “I am extremely grateful to the Wilson Foundation for this funding commitment and I am very pleased to see our collaborative economic development strategy come to fruition.”

The Partnership for Economic Growth finalized and adopted a five-year economic development strategy last summer. The comprehensive approach resulted in the creation of five overarching initiatives and dozens of other key recommendations to be initiated by individual partners as well as collectively. It was designed to serve as a “call to action” and offers a clear vision for achieving economic prosperity in Chautauqua County. Most importantly, it promotes a collaborative and countywide outlook that supports substantial initiatives and strategic investment, to incrementally transform Chautauqua County’s economic standing in Western New York and across the State.

While the strategic plan serves as a roadmap, partners convene regularly within five individual work groups to identify priorities in the areas of Community Development, Business Development, Tourism, Workforce Readiness and Development, and Housing. The CCPEG Board is charged with developing an annual work plan, which contains a menu of priority projects to be pursued in that calendar year. This mechanism has proved to be successful and will continue to be utilized to identify, vet, develop, fund, and implement specific actions, projects, programs, and initiatives that align to the strategy.

“This funding award is exciting news for our county,” said PJ Wendel, Chautauqua County Executive. “The County and CCPEG have worked tirelessly to bring additional economic development opportunities to our communities and this generous grant will help us continue our work in making Chautauqua County a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

While specific projects to be funded by the Wilson Foundation award are yet to be determined, criteria such as project readiness, feasibility, and economic impact will be used to guide decision-making.

Nathan Aldrich, Economic Development Manager for CREDC and CCPEG, said “This award is a game-changer and will help us take our work to the next level. I look forward to realizing the tremendous impact that this funding will have on our ability to execute our mission along with several transformative projects within in the next few years. Mr. Wilson’s legacy certainly lives on in our community, and we are so proud be the recipient of his generosity.”

Geise and Aldrich also noted their appreciation to the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF), who helped advance the creation of the countywide economic development strategy and launch of CCPEG, and the Gebbie Foundation, who has also been an early supporter of the initiative.

“In addition to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, NCCF, and the Gebbie Foundation, we thank all of our committed partners, funders, Board and Advisory Council members, and staff for their dedication to this unique public-private economic development collaborative,” said Geise.

“The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation appreciates and recognizes the years of hard work and collaboration in Chautauqua County that has led to a common vision and an innovative platform from which to drive a new model of economic growth. The new project leveraging funding at CCPEG will support the implementation of priority projects in the coming years, with a laser-focus on raising quality of life across the entire county,” said James Boyle, Vice President of Programs and Communications, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

For more information about the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth, please visit CHQpartnership.org.

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