At a recent weekly ZOOM meeting, the Rotary Club of Jamestown heard from Nathan Aldrich, Special Projects Coordinator with the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Development, who also manages the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth under the umbrella of the Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDC). In his capacity as Special Projects Coordinator, Aldrich assists in the development and management of several economic development projects and initiatives; manages several County agency allocation contracts with a variety of community organizations; administers the Occupancy Tax for Tourism Development Program; and coordinates the Department’s capital projects.
Chautauqua County’s Economic Development Strategic Planning process concluded earlier this year under the leadership of Aldrich and the office is now working with a multitude of partners to prioritize, develop, secure resources, and implement priority projects in alignment with the plan.
Aldrich also reported on Phase II of the Economic Development Strategic Plan (under development since 2018). Jobs in Chautauqua County have dropped 13% for the period from 2001 to 2019, compared to a 1% drop in jobs for the western New York region and a 4% increase in the entire state of New York.
The Strategic Plan has five main points:
- Enhance the inventory of appropriate sites for advance manufacturing, science and technology and other uses
- Initiate and maintain a talent retention and attraction campaign
- Construct 500 housing units by 2030
- Increase tax revenues by 10% from core communities over 7 years
- Increase the number of visitors to Chautauqua County by 50% within 5 years Aldrich reported the County has applied for EPA grants to complete Phase I and II assessments to remediate two Brownfield sites and will be working with both the cities of Dunkirk and Jamestown. He reported that the County works to attract business primarily through the Industrial Development Agency and Invest Buffalo, which was successful in attracting Athenex to Dunkirk.
Aldrich told the audience a company would choose to move to Chautauqua County because of tax incentives through the IDA such as mortgage tax abatement and PILOTs), the location of the county and its proximity to Buffalo, Rochester, Erie, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, its tools to train the workforce such as JCC, PTech, BOCES and MTI, and of course, because of the quality of life with five lakes, ski resorts, hiking, and the low cost of living.
Aldrich holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design and Urban and Regional Analysis and a Master of Urban Planning degree with a specialization in Economic Development, both from the University at Buffalo. He previously served as a Planner for Chautauqua County and as a planning development consultant.