By Jann Wiswall

On Tuesday, April 22, the board of directors of the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) approved a final resolution authorizing sales tax abatement on the purchase of materials associated with Holiday Valley’s planned improvements over the next two years. Holiday Valley will save as much as $272,000 in sales taxes on up to $3.4 million in renovations/improvements. Planned work includes realigning Holiday Valley Road, purchasing 54 automated snow guns, renovating the Inn at Holiday Valley, constructing a pool-area cabana, expanding the third floor of the Mountain Sports Center and more.

The board also approved a resolution authorizing Community Bank to enter into a 10-year PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) property tax exemption and a sales tax abatement on 10 acres of land on Route 417 in Allegany. The bank is constructing a 25,000-square-foot back office banking center that will house the bank’s mortgage processing unit. In addition, the company is upgrading and renovating its office facilities located at 201 North Union St. in Olean. The total cost of both projects is estimated to be $6 million. The sales tax exemption will save the bank an estimated $240,000.

Finally, the board also approved the final application from MJ Painting, Co., for sales tax abatement and other tax reductions on its plans to construct a warehouse, paint shop and office space addition on the 1.6 acre brownfield adjacent to its commercial property on Homer Street in Olean. The company purchased the site in 2013 from the CCIDA and is in the midst of brownfield clean up. The total project amount is estimated at $528,500.

Buffalo Niagara Partnership Presentation

In other business, the board heard a presentation about the goals and mission of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership (BNP) from two of its staff members: Nadine Powell, senior director, and Bryan Roth, manager of business development (CanAm Council). The CCIDA is a member of the organization.

Powell explained that the BNP is a privately-funded economic development organization that aims to grow private investment and help retain and expand businesses in the region. Its members include thousands of employers, investors, business development organizations (such as chambers of commerce and IDAs) and other stakeholders. It offers members access to a variety of tools including workforce development, best practices sharing, networking, business-to-business connections and more to help members succeed and increase regional growth.

Roth described a relatively new program, the CanAm Council, which is focused on creating cross-border business, trade and tourism opportunities through bi-national relationship building, joint planning, border advocacy and business-to-business interaction.

Roth pointed out that Ontario has been experiencing tremendous economic growth over the past several years, making the CanAm Council’s efforts particularly opportune. He noted that over the past two years, Ontario saw 130,000 new homes built (that’s more than all existing homes in the city of Buffalo) and the average median income has risen to $58,000 (on par with New York City).

Given this growth, Roth and CCIDA Executive Director Corey Wiktor see tremendous potential for all of Western New York. Wiktor noted that Cattaraugus County has the opportunity to build on Ellicottville’s brand by advancing relationships with Canadians who already know the region for its skiing and tourism. He said CanAm and BNP both offer the area ways to tap into those markets, and with programs offered by IDAs, StartUp NY, and other business attractors, the county is in a good position to show off the benefits of expanding or locating Canadian companies here.

In other business, Wiktor asked the board for permission to join the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York in order to keep the CCIDA in the loop on fracking and other issues the organization addresses that could impact the county. He said the CCIDA would not join in order to advocate for or against any issue. The board approved the proposal.

The next meeting of the CCIDA will be held on Tuesday, June 10 at 11:15 a.m. at the CCIDA offices at 9 E. Washington St. in Ellicottville.