By Jann Wiswall
The Southern Tier West board of directors met for its monthly meeting on Thursday, March 20 at the Center for Regional Excellence in Salamanca and welcomed Norman L. Marsh as its newest member, replacing Joseph Eade who resigned for health reasons. Marsh is chairman of the Cattaraugus County Legislature and is a Republican representing legislative district 3 (the Towns of Coldspring, Conewango, Little Valley, Napoli, Randolph and South Valley).
STW Executive Director Richard Zink reported that President Obama’s requested budget for fiscal year 2015 for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) of $68.2 million represents a reduction of $12.1 million, primarily due to cuts of $10 million for a high-speed broadband deployment program in West Virginia. The president’s budget request for the Economic Development Administration remains relatively steady at $248 million.
Zink also reported that STW has received a Cattaraugus County Community Transformation Grant to increase the scope of services provided by a registered dietician in local schools. The board approved Zink’s request to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Carey Skelton, RD, to expand the program.
In other news, ARC sent an independent auditor to STW in March to review its processes. A few findings were noted, most minor and quickly remedied. The board did make recommendations on a finding related to the executive director’s autonomy in budget control. The auditor felt that an additional signature should be required on checks and for other expenditures. STW’s board chair Bob Keis suggested, and the board agreed, that Keis will be authorized as STW’s second signator on checks above a minimum to be determined internally by Keis and staff.
Zink said that 40 registrants attended STW’s successful Essential Grant Skills Workshop on March 18 and 19, and that 20 participants attended a March 6 training for newly elected officials.
In April, STW will be holding workshops in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties on how to apply for ARC grants of up to $150,000 (see story, page 9).
On May 19, the Southern Tier Risk Management Conference will be held at the Jamestown Community College Olean campus to address the needs of farmers and food entrepreneurs in the area. Topics to be covered during the conference include legal issues, farm transitional planning, labor relations, crop insurance, pricing, marketing, employment management, communications, business structure and more. The conference is being sponsored by STW and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service.
Zink noted that Cornell Extension Service and STW are developing a “nice partnership” that enhances STW’s local foods programs.
Max Easton, STW’s GIS project coordinator, briefed the board on the Southern Tier Enterprise Development Organization (STEDO), an STW affiliate. STEDO’s goal is to create and retain jobs in STW’s tri-county region. It provides business owners with access to capital via low interest loans with flexible terms and conditions. It also supplies supplemental commercial loans, or gap financing. The primary criterion for these loans, however, is job creation, so businesses must be able to show that their programs will create or retain a minimum of one job per $5,000 borrowed.
STEDO loans typically range from $10,000 to $150,000. Working capital loans usually must be repaid in five to seven years; fixed asset loans can have a term of up to 20 years.
Currently, STEDO has an active loan portfolio of 22 participants carrying more than $2 million in loans. These participants have created or retained 342 jobs, Easton said. Industries represented include healthcare, retail trade, accommodations and food service, manufacturing and “other,” which includes hair salons, auto repair shops, pet grooming and more.
More information about applying for STEDO loans is available at www.southerntierwest.org.
The next meeting of the STW Board of Directors will be held at 1 p.m. on April 17 at STW’s Salamanca offices at 4039 Route 219, Suite 200.