Orleans EDA seeks $50K funding increase from county

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 September 2023 at 9:44 am

Legislator on EDA board says Legislature unlikely to approve that request

ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency, an organization focused on spurring business activity in the county, is seeking a $50,000 funding increase from the Orleans County Legislature for 2024.

The county allocated $200,000 for the Orleans EDA for 2023, up from $190,000 in 2022.

The agency’s board of directors on Friday approved a $385,000 budget for the EDA in 2024. The agency has been waiting on several larger projects to move forward in the past two years, including renewable energy projects and expansions at local companies.

The EDA generates some of its revenue through fees, which are usually 2 percent of the total investment in a project. A $3 million expansion, for example, would net $60,000 for the EDA if the project received assistance from the agency.

The EDA has had some cash-flow challenges. It received a $500,000 loan from the county in October 2022 to be paid back over three years at 3 percent interest each year. The terms call for the EDA to pay the county a third of the principal each year.

The first payment of $166,666.67 plus $22,500 is due March 1, 2024. The second payment of $166,666.67 plus $10,000 in interest is due March 1, 2025. The third payment of $166,666.66 plus $5,000 is due March 1, 2026.

The agency is seeking a 25 percent increase from the county in its annual government allocation. But Skip Draper, a county legislator and EDA board member, said the county has its own challenges and he doesn’t expect much of an increase from the county for the EDA in 2024.

Draper said the county was notified by the state that it is reducing reimbursements for several social services programs that are mandated by the state. That could be a $3 million hit to the county, Draper said.

“It’s unlikely,” Draper said about the $50,000 increase being approved. “The mandates are up (from the state0 but the reimbursements are down.”

John Misiti, the EDA board chairman, said the county loan has helped the EDA through a challenging year. He said he expects a turnaround for the EDA finances soon.

“We are navigating through a  tight year,” he said. “We need a big project to hit.”