County approves $500,000 as short-term loan for Orleans EDA

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 August 2022 at 7:35 am

Funding will help economic development agency work through cash-flow challenges

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Orleans Economic Development Agency board of directors and staff for the agency met for their monthly board meeting on Friday morning in Albion at the Albion Visitor’s Center at 121 North Main St. At right are board vice chairman Skip Draper and (second from right) Michael Dobell, the EDA executive director.

ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency will use a $500,000 loan from the county government to get through a cash-flow challenge.

The EDA will need to pay back the loan at a 2 percent interest rate over the next 3.5 years.

The economic development agency has seen some of its funding slowed during the pandemic because businesses have put projects on hold. Businesses pay the EDA a small percentage of an overall project that receives EDA assistance.

“Covid has killed economic development for the past two years,” said Skip Draper, vice chairman of the EDA board and a county legislator.

One example, BOMET Recovery planned a new 37,000-square foot facility at the Medina Business Park. Plans for the new building were announced nearly two years ago at 100 Marcia Tuohey Way, the northside of the road facing Bates Road.

But construction hasn’t started. Construction costs have skyrocketed, and there are supply chain delays.

BOMET also is based in Canada. The U.S. closed its border to Canadians in March 2020 due to Covid restrictions, and didn’t reopen it until November 2021.

The EDA has many projects in the economic development pipeline, but businesses remain cautious about forging ahead with expansions or setting up new operations.

“People are taking their time and making sure they are set up for success,” said Michael Dobell, the EDA executive director.

The EDA will use some of the loan from the county to advance on infrastructure projects at the Medina Business Park. The EDA wants to expand the roadway at both sides of the business park to make it more attractive for new business investments.

The EDA also is stepping up its marketing efforts in Canada with regional economic development councils. The agency on Friday renewed a $5,000 commitment with Invest Buffalo Niagara (click here) to market Orleans County sites to Canadian companies.

The county allocates $190,000 annually to support the Orleans EDA’s efforts in the county. The agency has three full-time staff. Draper said the board on the EDA is discussing asking the county for an increase in that allocation for 2023. Draper said the EDA runs a lean operation at a much lower cost than most similar-size counties.