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PENN YAN   ADVERTISEMENT

Center awards Keuka College, Birkett Mills

PENN YAN—Finger Lakes Economic Development Center (FLEDC) reflected on a busy year at the organization’s annual meeting at Lakeside Country Club April 30. The Yates County Industrial Development Agency was rebranded as FLEDC in 2009.
The highlight of the program was presentation of two awards. The first, the Community Award, was given to Keuka College for their Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) which is located in the FLEDC building. The program began in 2001 with four employees. There are now 50 employees and 60 employees are projected. The program leases all of the third floor and is expanding to the second floor in the building. Overall they have a payroll of $4.7 million and expect that to be $5.4 million next year. The college’s Global Education offices, also located in the same building, has 4,000 students in China and Vietnam.
In accepting the award, Keuka College President Dr. Joseph Burke said, “We saw change was needed and we decided to go with adults. When we looked at the IDA building we had 30 students. We don’t know how big it will grow. This building has become our central port. We’re kind of crowding Steve out of his own building.”
The Yates Award for dedicated service in promoting the economic development in the community was presented to The Birkett Mills. Steve Griffin, executive director of FLEDC, said it is a business with local and worldwide impact. The Birkett Mills was established in Yates County in 1797 and has been in continuous operation here since then. Griffin said, “It was here before airplanes, TV, phones, gas powered vehicles and light bulbs. George Washington was in his last year as president when it was started. They have made a significant contribution to the economic vitality of our area.” In accepting the award, Birkett Vice President Cliff Orr, said, “Thank you on behalf of our employees.”
Board of directors chairman Kevin Bailey outlined some of the high points of the year as well as challenges that are being addressed. Bailey listed some of the many projects that were completed in 2009, commenting, “If I sound like a cheerleader, give me the pom poms.”
Bailey said the results of 2009 are already being seen with projects such as the call center and museum. He also noted some of the challenges from Albany including larger costs for projects by businesses involved with the IDA, sunsetting of the Empire Zone program June 30 and removal of the ability to issue bonds for non-profit organizations. The biggest recent problem was a tax bill from New York State for $24,000. Bailey commented, “Last I knew we were non-profit.” He said legislators need to be contacted about the problems. The tax bill, which caused an uproar throughout the state, has gone back to the legislature and is suspended for now.
Griffin said he attended a long range planning meeting at the Yates County Chamber of Commerce April 29 and heard about a new website, unshackleupstate.com, encouraging the audience to access it. After commenting 2009 was a pretty good year he acknowledged the board, noting, “It’s a thankless job.” Griffin outlined some items not in the report such as the clean bill of health in the recent audit. He said, “We are self sufficient and want to keep it that way.” Space in the agency’s West Lake Road building is rented to bout 20 different tenants.
Griffin said more people are getting involved in economic development and, “I’m hearing less negative speak out there and more positive.” Some of the major projects in 2009 were Peebles, Finger Lakes Museum competition, successful application for funds from Restore New York statewide competition and the call center, which was on a national search.
 



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