by Jeff Cole
While some people may be familiarized with the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency and even recognize the acronym “IDA,” they might still hold some misconceptions and be puzzled about what the CCIDA is and does.
To clarify, the CCIDA, according to its Executive Director Corey Wiktor, is a public benefit corporation set up under New York state law to encourage redevelopment and reinvestment by the private sector by issuing abatements. What it isn’t, is an agency that just removes a tax, which he said is a misconception held by some people.
“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Mr. Wiktor. “The IDA looks to encourage reinvestment, looks to offer minimal abatements on the value added.There’s never a retraction of a tax, if you will. It’s simply the value added is abated for a period of time to help that initial investment by private sector.”
Mr. Wiktor said that the primary advantages of utilizing the IDA for startup businesses and existing businesses within Cattaraugus County are the IDA’s abilities to abate New York sales tax, real property tax and mortgage recording tax and to also issue tax-exempt bonds if the developer chooses to do financing the tax-exempt route. He explained that abatement, which can only be obtained if a project developer has a project investment, is basically forgiveness of a tax in lieu of the reinvestment.
“So, let’s say you’re buying $100,000 worth of equipment to invest in your manufacturing center. Typically there would be 8 percent sales tax associated with that purchase. We have the ability to basically wipe out that 8 percent to sort of save the business $800 to reinvest or put all back into the project. It’s kind of a forgiveness of investment made to expand or grow one business,” he said.
Currently the CCIDA, which has served Cattaraugus County since 1971, is working on a plethora of projects, including a private development project on Elizabeth Street in Ellicottville. Mr. Wiktor said that project involves redeveloping an old 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that formerly manufactured Little Leauge and miniature Louisville Slugger baseball bats.
“Unfortunately, that business left not only Cattaraugus County but New York state as a whole around 2006, 2007, so that building has sat idle for five or six years. A developer is looking to invest a significant amount of money into the facility to open up. The initial phase would be a restaurant, as well as bowling alleys, so we’re seeing these types of redevelopment occurring just here within Ellicottville,” he said.
The CCIDA also has continual projects going on with Holiday Valley and HoliMont ski resorts, which have worked with the agency for more than 20 years, according to Mr. Wiktor. He estimated that the CCIDA has been a part of roughly $30 million worth of projects with those two tourism destinations during the last two to three years.
“We’ve been part of a variety (of projects) at Holiday Valley, anything from the terrain park to the skycoaster to their new lodge that they are currently building as we speak. HoliMont, we’ve been associated with a variety of improvement projects there, (such as) the recent purchase of their quad-chairlifts, so, a variety of projects with HoliMont, as well,” he said.
Dave Riley, president of Holimont, mentioned a long list of projects that the IDA has been a part of. The current project, a new $3.6M high-speed detachable quad chairlift is being constructed this summer, and will be ready for the upcoming 2012-13 ski season. The IDA also is a part of the new purchase of a Pisten Bully 600W (winch) snowcat, which will allow Holimont crews to finesse their grooming capabilities even more so. Holimont is also self-sufficient when it comes to power, thanks to the “HoliWatts 3.5 meg power plant, also a project with IDA. “We are able to put more back into the infrastructure, “the bones of the business “such as snowmaking, at Holimont thanks to the IDA’s involvement,” says Riley, “We want to be a very successful ski resort, and with the help of the IDA, we can accomplish that, and ultimately bring more jobs to the WNY area.”
In addition to abatements and encouraging development and reinvestment within Cattaraugus County, the CCIDA also works in concert with a lot of the other economic development agencies within the county. As evidence of this, the CCIDA is one of 10 members of the Cattaraugus County Economic Development Team, which works to assist businesses that exist within or are looking to move to Cattaraugus County.
“Another big part of our business is networking and working with our county officials, state officials, community officials basically to encourage any type of retention or growth within Cattaraugus County. We’re more than happy to help and assist where we can,” said Mr. Wiktor.