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Economic Development Center still waiting for reimbursement from state

PENN YAN—Finger Lakes Economic Development Center is patiently waiting for reimbursement from New York State for local projects. At the April 22 meeting of the organization board of directors, executive director Steve Griffin said, “The Outlet Trail project was approved three years ago. I’m concerned about the state paying back grants.” Griffin plans to contact the state again as well as Friends of the Outlet, owners of the trail outside the village of Penn Yan. He said his office has had no word on the $1.3 million grant that was approved months ago. Board member Taylor Fitch said, “I get the feeling the state is broke and has serious cash flow problems.”
The state has passed Industrial Development Agency (IDA) reforms. Fitch said Yates County passed a resolution opposing the changes. One of the problems has been the fact that unions will not agree with measures to assist the IDA’s in their work.
Griffin said Empire Zone changes did go through at the state level. The change will take away the local approval process. Two local businesses that were approved in October 2008 are still waiting for signatures at the state level that would move the process along.
Empire Zone coordinator Ryan Hallings said he has met with the Yates Cultural and Recreational Resources project people and they plan to put forth an application. He said Coach & Equipment Corporation will make application. Hallings said, “It looks like it far exceeds the new regulations.” The Soldiers & Sailors Hospital application was approved. This would provide a benefit to individual contributors in the form of a tax credit. Griffin spoke about the Restore New York grant in which the state claims up to $2.5 million is available. The law says it must be a 90 to 10 match. Griffin said, “I think we have a fairly strong project. It’s not that far off from the ratio.” Warehouses on Water Street, the old Garrett Winery building on Liberty Street, Strudels Arcade and the former Knapp Hotel on Main Street, all in Penn Yan, are possible projects. Board member Jim Long said the warehouse buildings would be a good start on the outlet. Griffin said the Knapp Hotel could possibly be renovated into a hotel, creating jobs. He said, “We looked at what projects would have the biggest impact. They are all good projects.”
However, Griffin said there would probably not be enough funds to do all four projects at once. He said they would probably have to start with the most impactful. Griffin said the winery and warehouses would probably be first, then the hotel and finally Strudels Arcade.
The Main Street grant was discussed and Griffin said Yates County is one of just two in New York State that has never received the grant. The maximum amount available is $200,000. $25,000 would be earmarked for streetscape improvements and $175,000 for upper floor renovations of commercial spaces. Griffin said, “These projects are vital to get the economy going. Yates County sales tax revenue was up the first quarter. I think part of that is Peebles and getting people to stay here. It’s part of economic development that needs to take place.”

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