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Jamestown Needs To Give Its Vacant Space A New Life

The Jamestown area is looking at another big, empty building in the south as Truck-Lite looks for a new home for its corporate offices.

The sprawling East Elmwood Avenue, Falconer, manufacturing facility is far too big for the 100 employees Truck-Lite has left in the area, so the company has been looking for a new, smaller facility.

Company officials say there is nothing existing in the county that fits its needs, and is looking to either have a new location built in Chautauqua County, move to a site in Warren County, Pa., or move to the Erie, Pa., area.

Despite a plethora of vacant space in buildings, there was nothing that suited 100 officeworkers in the Jamestown area. Perhaps Truck-Lite is being picky, but perhaps not. Perhaps Truck-Lite looked at the available office space and found it was either too large, too small or just plain lousy. That is a scathing indictment of the disinvestment in the Jamestown area’s office space. A longtime manufacturer with a lengthy history here can’t find a suitable new home — so the county IDA has to scramble to build a new building for between $4 and $5 million to retain 100 jobs. A

While we dillied and dallied and dawdled with a $10 million state investment in lots of shiny new toys — only a few of which have actually come on line and one of which closed — we didn’t invest in the type of building renovation that could have more easily kept Truck-Lite’s remaining 100 jobs here. A downtown crying out for 100 people in good-paying jobs working in the central business district didn’t have one suitable office.

The type of foot traffic that downtown businesses depend on for survival comes mainly from two places — those who work downtown during the day and visitors who come from outside the city. Those who work downtown are a more stable source of income for local restaurants year-round than are visitors — yet the city has focused its investment on tourists and disregarded the potential for office workers.

If Jamestown is ever going to remake itself, it has to get its vacant space for a new life.

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