By Jann Wiswall

Richard Zink, executive director of Southern Tier West, announced during the board of directors meeting on Thursday, Oct. 16 that STW was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its project titled “Meat and Poultry Processing Facility Feasibility Study.”

The $24,750 grant will provide funding to hire a consultant to do the feasibility study, with project management support provided by Kim LaMendola, STW’s local food promotion program coordinator. STW’s GIS staff, Zink and others also will provide support and guidance.

The study is intended to determine if there is a need and a market for more food processing in the Southern Tier, if there is appropriate grazing land available, if a workforce exists to support it and other critical issues.

LaMendola, who prepared the USDA grant application, was congratulated by the board for her efforts.

Zink also reported that STW, through a $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, has created a Manufacturers Productivity Improvement Program in association with the Industrial Development Agencies of Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. The program is intended to help small- to medium-sized manufacturers with fewer than 250 employees develop their workforces and technical skills in order to improve productivity. The MPIP will provide matching funding for consultants to assist companies in their efforts.

Currently, STW staff is putting together a list of eligible private consulting firms that can be recommended to manufacturing companies. All consultants must be approved by the STW board.

In other business, STW’s auditor, Bysiek CPA, PLLC, reported that the organization has been issued a clean opinion. While assets and liabilities are down slightly (by 1 percent) from last year, STW still has more assets than liabilities and its “financial position is relatively strong as of June 30.”

The board formally elected Bob Keis (Cattaraugus County) to serve another term as chair, Kier Dirlam (Allegany County) to the position of vice chair and Jay Gould (Chautauqua County) to the position of secretary.

Zink also reminded the board that STW is holding a training program on New York State Retirement Reporting on Oct. 29-30 and a Fall Planning and Zoning Conference on Nov. 5-6.

The next meeting of the STW board will be held on Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. in its offices at 4039 Route 219, Suite 200, in Salamanca.