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28 County Businesses Affected By Pandemic Awarded Loans

Pucci’s Carpet was one of the county businesses awarded CARES Act loan funds. Photo by Natasha Matteliano

Nearly 30 Chautauqua County businesses affected by the coronavirus have been awarded more than $5.7 million in loans to help them financially through this time.

Last month, the U.S. Economic Development Administration officially announced that the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency had been selected as the recipient of a $10.5 million grant through the CARES Act, which enabled the agency to establish a new Revolving Loan Fund. The intent of the RLF is to provide capital, in the form of low-interest loans, to both businesses and non-profit organizations as a means to respond to economic injury resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the intent of distributing the funding across many sectors and do it an equitable manner, the CCIDA decided to establish target budgets by sector and to deploy the funding in at least three rounds. The first round of funding was awarded at Tuesday’s board meeting, with the subsequent funding cycles scheduled for January and April of 2021 (and July of 2021 if necessary).

On Tuesday, the CCIDA Board approved funding for 28 businesses and non-profit entities in the following sectors: manufacturing/warehousing; not-for-profits; retail/commercial/agriculture; small business; and tourism/hospitality. All said, $5,736,293 in funding was approved by the Board of Directors after a thorough review by the Loan Committee, which will, in addition to retaining hundreds of jobs, create upwards of 100 new jobs.

Mark Geise, Deputy County Executive for Economic Development and the CCIDA’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are thrilled that we could deploy more than 50% of the funding provided by the EDA in only a couple of months, and in the process help more than two dozen businesses to not only endure, but create jobs. Our incredible team at the CCIDA has worked very hard to get this money out working in the community as quickly as possible, while ensuring that we are responsible, impartial, and address the EDA’s guidelines.”

During the board meeting, Geise admitted they have had more requests than money. “The whole idea was to spread the wealth and do this in three rounds,” he said. “What we’ve decided to do is basically reduce the working capital requests by 50% because in every case everyone asked for almost the full amount.”

The entities approved for funding include: Luscombe Aircraft; Merritt Estate Winery; The Original Crunch Roll; Pucci Carpet; Excelco/Newbrook; Artone; International Ordnance; Kimbert Manufacturing; Heritage Ministries; Uhl Ventures (Servpro); Ark Wholesale; SKB Auto Sales; Brigiottas; Billicki Law Firm; Advanced Production Group; Skate Shop; Corvus Bus & Charter; Webb’s Candies/Motel; Falconer Hotel; La Quinta/Holiday Inn/Hampton Inn; Big Inlet Brewing; Ivory Acres Weddings; Shawbucks; Cockaigne; Pace’s Pizzeria; and Webb’s Harbor Restaurant and Bowling Lanes.

The money is being used for a variety of reasons. Richard Dixon, chief financial officer for the IDA, briefly went over some of the applications.

Dixon noted Luscombe is making hanger improvements. Merritt Estate Winery will use the money to buy grape juice. Many others including the Crunch Roll Factory, Excelco/Newbrook, Artone, International Ordnance and more are using the funds as a combination of working capital and also to help purchase equipment. Heritage Ministries needs to purchase new equipment now required due to the pandemic. Pucci Carpet is looking to expand its product. SKB Auto Sales is looking to purchase a Ford dealership by a local entity, which will help protect 28 jobs. Webb’s Motel plans on doing some remodeling before snowmobile season.

Some of the business, Dixon said, needed working capital “otherwise they’re going to have to close their doors.”

Once the three rounds are completed, Geise said if there is money left over some of those that had their money reduced may be given an opportunity to apply again, although he admitted that’s unlikely. “I doubt that’s going to happen, I think we’ll have that fully committed by then,” he said.

Board member Mark Odell, who is also a Republican county legislator from Brocton, lauded the loan committee and others for their hard work. “Nice job everyone. This is an easy one to support,” he said.

The loans were given full approval by the IDA board.

“It is actually quite amazing that the CCIDA was able to deploy more than half of the funding awarded by the EDA in just under two months, while the EDA has given them two years to do so,” said PJ Wendel, interim county executive, in a news release. “It is also very encouraging to see that they have distributed the funding among many sectors, and approximately 100 jobs will be created in the process. As I’ve said all along, our comeback will be greater than our setback, and this funding is proof positive that we will not only recover, we have another economic development tool to spur investment and job creation in this county for years to come as a result of the pandemic.”

As part of the EDA’s CARES Act Recovery Assistance, the EDA invited select current recipients of existing EDA-funded Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) awards, including the CCIDA, to apply for a supplemental RLF award to help respond to the unusual and compelling urgency of the coronavirus pandemic. EDA had determined that the CCIDA, by virtue of its longstanding and substantial investment in making credit available to small businesses, possessed unique abilities to support the CARES Act Recovery Assistance initiative and that it was therefore in the public’s best interest to make this award available on a non-competitive basis.

“This award is a game-changer for Chautauqua County and speaks to the EDA’s confidence in the CCIDA to immediately deploy necessary capital within our county to retain and create jobs, and to expedite economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19,” said Geise. “I express my sincere gratitude to our entire economic development team for working so hard to secure and deploy this funding on behalf of the county. We are committed to employing an allocation strategy for this funding that is systematic, inclusive, and equitable so we can have maximum impact on the business and non-profit community.”

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCIDA, with the approval of EDA, established a $250,000 Emergency Working Capital Loan Program with most of the remaining available balance of its Al Tech Trust RLF capital. This program provided twenty-five $10,000 working capital loans to businesses faced with hardships at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program was extremely successful, with 25 loan closings within four weeks of the program being created; however, this nearly depleted the Al-Tech Loan Fund and excluded several other businesses from participating. This, coupled with the fact that the CCIDA granted temporary deferments on principal payments to a significant number of existing loan clients, significantly limited the agency’s ability to make new loans.

The CCIDA team, at the invitation of the EDA, responded immediately with required documentation to apply for the funding. As part of the application process, CCIDA staff created a detailed plan for responsibly and prudently deploying the funds in a way that provides flexibility for recipients as well as timeliness in deploying the funding in order to accelerate economic recovery within the County. The newly-established CCIDA RLF Program is available to a wide-range of industry sectors, including professional services, non-profits, and other sectors that have previously been excluded from receiving CCIDA loan funds through the Al-Tech Loan Fund. As currently established, the new RLF provides loans of no less than $25,000 and not to exceed $1 Million, and working capital loans of up to $250,000, with an interest rate of 2.44% (the lowest allowed).

Geise stated that the application and program details are currently available, and urges anyone interested in applying to contact the CCIDA office at 716-661-8900.

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