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

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

The funding will help the economic development agency overcome cash flow difficulties

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Orleans Economic Development Agency board and agency staff gathered for their monthly board meeting on Friday morning in Albion at the Visitor Center d’Albion at 121 North Main St. At right are Vice Chairman of the Board Skip Draper and (second from right) Michael Dobell, the Executive Director of the EDA.

ALBION — The Orleans Economic Development Agency will use a $500,000 loan from the county government to overcome a cash flow challenge.

The EDA will have to repay the loan at an interest rate of 2% over the next 3.5 years.

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

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

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

But construction has not started. Construction costs have skyrocketed and there are delays in the supply chain.

BOMET is also based in Canada. The United States closed its border to Canadians in March 2020 due to Covid restrictions and did not reopen it until November 2021.

The EDA has many projects in the economic development pipeline, but companies remain cautious about pursuing expansions or setting up new operations.

“People take their time and make sure they’re ready to succeed,” said EDA executive director Michael Dobell.

The EDA will use part of the county loan to advance infrastructure projects at Medina Business Park. EDA wants to extend the causeway on both sides of the business park to make it more attractive for new business investment.

EDA is also increasing 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 businesses.

The county allocates $190,000 annually to support Orleans EDA efforts in the county. The agency has three full-time employees. Draper said the EDA board is considering asking the county for an increase in this allowance for 2023. Draper said the EDA is running a lean operation at a cost far lower than most counties in similar size.

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